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BURLINGTON TIMES NEWS: Marchers call for justice and peace

April 19th, 2011

By Molly McGowan

A group of people advocating immigration reform made their way Monday morning down Webb Avenue.

 They started from Holy Comforter Episcopal Church at East Davis Street in Burlington and marched to the Alamance County Detention Center on West Elm Street in Graham. 

The march was part of the 25th annual Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace, an event spanning North Carolina demanding immigration reform, fair trade policies and justice for workers.

Protestors carrying white crosses with phrases including, “End the death penalty,” and “Immigration reform,” gathered in the parking lot of the detention center and sang, “Peace, Shalom, Salaam,” interjecting, “for the people of Afghanistan…for the people of Haiti…for the 2.5 million in our prison system.”

Joseph Wolyniak, who helped lead the march with a large blue and green “Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace” sign, said the group is advocating for peace globally, but is especially focusing on statewide efforts to provide equality to immigrants. “Be aware of the world (in which) we live, but act locally,” he said.
The group’s actions included reading statements from local churches and various faith communities protesting state House Bill 11, which would keep unapproved immigrants from attending community colleges or universities, and House Bill 343, which would prohibit policies that would limit enforcement of federal immigration laws. After the readings, marchers were encouraged to write to their legislators to give their opinions on the bills.

Wolyniak said the group  members were also “deeply saddened,” by programs like 287(g), which he said, “targets our brothers and sisters.” Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act – which allows the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to partner with local law enforcement like the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department – does not fall into Wolyniak’s belief that everyone should be treated and loved as if they were neighbors.

“We’re out here first of all to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” he said. He moved with the rest of the group toward the front of the detention center as a protester dressed as an ICE agent “arrested” a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty and took her in handcuffs to officers, who didn’t allow the group to cross the detention center’s threshold.

The stop in Graham is only one of the group’s first locations to protest; the march began Sunday at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, and continued in Greensboro later Monday afternoon following the visit to the Alamance County Detention Center.

Wolyniak said the culminating event on Friday will be a Stations of the Cross display in front of the state capitol in Raleigh. He said while the stations traditionally represent the stops Jesus made on his way to Golgotha, “We will couple those steps with some of our pressing social issues today.”

To read the article in the Burlington Times News, click here