Most children spend their summer vacation relaxing. But 10-year-old Andrew Gafford and his 9-year-old brother, Thomas, could not kick back knowing migrant families were in need. They started researching online and came across a national vigil called “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps.”

The brothers joined forces with several other children to host a Lights of Liberty vigil Friday night at the Boulder Bandshell. The event, which drew more than 200 people, sought to protest “inhumane treatment of migrants.” It included a walk around the block, in which people held signs that read, “Close the Camps,” “Melt ICE”  and “Stop traumatizing children. Families belong together.”

Lights for Liberty is a coalition of people advocating for the human rights of migrants, according to its Facebook page. Across the state and the nation, many communities hosted protests. In Lafayette, a march to “Close the Camps” proceeded down U.S. 287 Friday night. While in Aurora, outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Center, roughly 2,000 protesters spoke out against potential ICE raids in Denver this weekend. According to an article in Westword, events with similar messages took place in  Cortez, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction and Durango.

Andrew and Thomas are from Boulder Creek, Calif., but are visiting their grandparents who live in Boulder. The brothers heard about the Lights of Liberty protest taking place in Aurora, but wanted to create something local in which Boulder County residents could participate.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

More than 200 people attended a Lights of Liberty vigil for migrants and detained children at the bandshell in Boulder’s Central Park on Friday.

Andrew was among those who addressed the crowd Friday. Microphone in hand, he shouted his message.

“I don’t want our country to be known as the country that puts kids in cages,” he said.

For his part, Thomas said he was proud to see so many turn out to support the cause.

“It feels like we didn’t do all this work for nothing,” he said.

Other children joined Andrew and Thomas in their effort. Liam Ricklin, 13, set up a lemonade stand and raised almost $200. He donated the money to Kids in Need of Defense — an organization dedicated to making sure migrant children are represented in court with an attorney.

During the event, several speakers addressed the crowd, including Marcus Trevino-Conroy of Out Boulder County and state Rep. Jonathan Singer.

“You can see just by the crowd assembling here that we want to send a strong message to Washington, D.C., that this is not how we treat our neighbors,” Singer said. “We are going to do everything we can until we shut down the concentration camps.

He drew parallels between history and the detention centers today.

“Having grown up in the Jewish faith and having understood what the roundups first meant, whether it was Nazi Germany or whether it was Camp Amache (a Japanese internment camp), that is what it is,” Singer said, “we are concentrating mass amount of people in inhumane ways.”

During his address to the crowd, Singer invited people to attend an ICE confirmer and legal observer training his office helped coordinate with local nonprofits. The training will teach people how to advocate for immigrants and provide support to their families, he said. Those interested in attending are asked to call 303-875-4727.

In an email Friday, Carol Rusnok , a director of communications for ICE’s Dallas-based office, responded to the Boulder vigil and said migrant children are not being housed in Colorado.

“All unaccompanied alien children are overseen by Health and Human Services,” Rusnok said. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fully respects the constitutional rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions. That being said, ICE remains committed to performing its immigration enforcement mission consistent with federal law and agency policy.”

Many who attend the vigil Friday noted they also were there to speak out against proposed ICE raids in Denver and across the country. President Donald Trump on Friday announced that mass arrests of migrants would begin on Sunday after they were called off in June to give Democrats two weeks to change laws governing asylum in the United States.

Boulder County commissioners on Friday sent an email in response to the potential raids.

“These raids do not serve as a constructive action to address the fragmented and broken immigration system in our country,” commissioners stated. “Instead, they serve to instill fear and insecurity and feed anti-immigrant and racist sentiments that divide and separate neighbors and neighborhoods from each other.”

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

Roxie Ricklin, 5, puts her head down on a “Resist” sign on her father’s lap during the Lights of Liberty vigil on Friday in Boulder.


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