Rally at the Border cancelled

The much-anticipated Rally at the Border was cancelled last Thursday, days before the planned event. Claims of terror bomb threats and significant security risks were said to be the reason for the cancellation.

University of San Diego junior and Student Director for the rally, Natasha Salgado, explained the situation in detail.

Tayler RV/The USD Vista

“The president of the foundation received emailed threats in regards to safety concerns,” Salgado said. “We wanted to make sure that everyone was safe, and we didn’t want to put them in a situation where they would want to come but be in fear and constant agitation.”

The Speak Out Forum continued on Friday, March 23 despite the cancellation of the rally. Guest speakers who planned to present at the rally facilitated the forum at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre. The forum was previously labeled as the We Are One Forum, however, the title was altered after the foundation cancelled the event.

Salgado shared why this alteration occurred.

“The We Are One name did not encompass the goal of the event which was for community and students members to ‘speak out’ about the issues and topics they were concerned on,” Salgado said. “We wanted it to be a conversational program.”

The President of the WAO foundation, Lawrence Nathaniel, did not respond to The USD Vista’s questions about the rally’s cancellation.

Several members of the community attended and engaged in an interactive forum regarding issues of immigration policies and solutions.

Josh Caballero, President of the San Diego Progressive Democrats, was one of the speakers on behalf of the on-campus forum.

“I know there were a couple of terror bomb threats on the communities,” Caballero said. “There was a serious mishandling of how the information was disseminated. If you are within a hundred miles of the border, the Border Patrol can detain you or me, and it does not matter if you are legal. They will take you if there is reasonable suspicion that there is actually a possibility of a person being in this country illegally.”

Marco Amaral, graduate student at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and community member of the South Bay Collective, explained his reasons for helping disassemble the rally.

“My main role here at the Speak Out forum was to speak out my frustrations as a USD student, but also my frustrations of the dynamic of being a USD student and one who lives south of the 8 freeway,” Amaral said. “I had a role in dismantling the Rally at the Border scheduled for Saturday, [March 25], and there were a couple reasons why. The primary reason was safety issues. We believe there are activists, revolutionary traditions of the South Bay that were not transparent or communicated to us.”

Amaral explained how one of the intentions of the rally organizers was to be in communication with police authorities.

“We know that, traditionally, the police have always been on the side of the oppressors in South Bay and that is why, when they contacted the police, the police contacted Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), and the California Border Patrol,” Amaral said. “So here you were going to have this huge rally at the border with potentially many undocumented people and families. There is ICE and immigration and the police; all three agencies in one space. How is our community supposed to feel safe in light of what has happened with those institutions?”

According to Amaral, another issue with the rally was how the organizations and collectives within these communities were disregarded and not taken into consideration.

“We saw this as a very much top-down approach, and, in those communities, we work from the bottom-up,” Amaral said. “They are coming into our communities and telling us how we should rally and protest, when we have been doing this for decades, way before it was popular.”

Amaral attributed yet another reason for the cancellation of the rally as a result of a lack of transparency and failed communication.

“We saw all of the nice lineups and flyers [for the event], and we asked ourselves, ‘Where is this money coming from? Who is this foundation?’” Amaral said. “Oh, they are tied to the Obama foundation, which is tied to the Democrats. Our movement, the immigration movement, cannot be tied to a political party. Movements have to be autonomous for themselves and be about the community and the people [they] affect. It cannot be about political parties. It is about a border wall that goes against our common sense humanity—that’s what it is about. We did not want our movement to be co-opted as it has been historically by institutions such as the Democratic Party.”

Caballero stated his original goals for speaking at the rally and the true message that continues despite the cancellation.

“My goal as a speaker for the rally was to make sure that the people in the community had a chance to make sure their voices were heard,” Caballero said. “It is unfortunate that the rally has been cancelled. But the message of what it represents is not gone. When organizations seem to fall apart it can bring a lot of disheartening ideas to these people. One thing we want to make sure that we save from this is that we are not giving up, and we are trying to make sure that everyone is safe. That is the key thing here.”

Caballero explained that the original rally organizers made an executive decision to cancel because they could not assure the safety of the immigrants that were going to be there.

“There is going to be another rally shortly that is going to be more organized from the grassroots,” Caballero said. “That was one of the main issues: an organization came in from out of town trying to set up the event. But we are taking the event into our own hands and make sure that we have community support from all levels to ensure that the rally is successful, safe, and the message is clear and concise, [that] the message of protecting our immigrants in our country is heard, and [we want to make] sure that we as a community stand with our brothers and sisters to ensure that they know we are standing by their side.”

Caballero encouraged USD students who were planning on attending the rally to continue to be aware of and participate at these local events.

“Stay tuned. Get active. Figure it out by going to local Facebook groups or an organizing rally,” Caballero said. “Those are where the connections are. If you go there, you will be able to be inputted and be apart of building a rally and feeling that experience of having thousands of people show up for an issue that matters. Get involved and make sure that the next rally doesn’t fail.”

The student organizers, Natasha Salgado and Mohamed M. Elnakib, have tentatively planned the next rally at the border for May 13.

Tayler Reviere Verninas | Asst. News Editor