Bridges, not walls
Hundreds of people of all ages, colors, backgrounds and religions filled the center of Fountain Park in Beaverton on Sunday afternoon in solidarity and with a promise to stand up against hate and injustice.
Beaverton Police escorted the crowd on the march down Southwest Fifth Street to Griffith Park.
BPD Officer Jeremy Shaw said the event went off without a hitch and there were no problems seen or reported. "Everyone was peaceful and friendly," Shaw added.
The overarching message was that Washington County respects all its citizens and people need to "build bridges, not walls."
Speakers at the event included Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici; Hillsboro Mayor Steve Calloway; President of the Bilal Mosque, Shahriah Ahmed; Rob Solomon of the Human Rights Council of Washington County; and Mohammad Najieb from Imam Muslim Community Center of Portland.
Bonamici told the crowd, "My grandparents were immigrants. This country was built with immigrants. I appreciate and value the diversity of this community."
She received a raucous applause when she said, "We build bridges here, not walls."
The rally-and-march is one of many spurred by President Donald Trump's executive order calling for a ban on Muslims.
Ahmed pointed out to the crowd, "This is not a Muslim issue. This is an American issue." He then recited the lines from Ellis Island: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Solomon's message was two-fold: while resistance to the current president seems to be bringing people together in many ways, his biggest concern is the attitude of the newly elected president.
Calloway presented a call to action in his speech that encouraged people to find a charity or cause close to their hearts and get involved in making communities open and giving.
"Whenever these great events come to a close, people always ask, 'Now what?' and I tell them they can take specific actions. None of us are powerless. We are all capable of making a difference or having an impact," Calloway said. "When I speak I always ask people what they are going to do tomorrow, because if speech doesn't translate into action – it's a waste of time."
Calloway added that he wants to keep the momentum going. "We in Hillsboro are welcoming to everybody. This message is a priority for us."
Salma Ahmad, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland emceed the event and led the march in an American Flag-themed hijab. Marchers chanted "No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here," and "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."
As the participants neared Griffith Park they chanted "United we stand — hand-in-hand."