Bulletin staff report
Nearly 150 people — spurred by the treatment of undocumented immigrants by the federal government — gathered at Woodward Park Friday evening as part of the Lights for Liberty vigil that was among more than 400 taking place nationwide.
“We are using this forum to stand up and say, ‘we will not accept this!’” Manteca resident Julia Galli Berg told those attending who were protesting the inhumane conditions faced by refugees.
The gathering brought out not just Manteca residents but others from Stockton, Modesto, Tracy, Lodi, and foothill communities to end what national organizers have called “human concentration camps” by peacefully protesting inhumane conditions faced by migrants.
Guest speakers at the Woodward Park gathering included Melissa Santos who serves as the district representative for Congressman Josh Harder, Tracy City Council Member Rhodesia Ransom, and Oscar Mejia of the United Farmworkers Union.
Anita Weimann sang “For What it is Worth” while those gathered joined in the singing of “This Land is Your Land.”
Julia Galli Berg, who helped organize the local gathering, read the words of a detainee in Colorado. Prior to the closing of the Manteca Lights for Liberty there was a candle ceremony.
Before it started Berg introduced it by noting, “we light the candle to remember that all humans have a right to life, liberty, and dignity.”
“We light the candle to protest the inhumane conditions faced by refugees.”
We light the candle to support all of the lawyers, volunteers, local communities, and organizations that work tirelessly at the border to make things better.”
We light the candle to hold all of the children that have been separated from their families in our hearts, to hope for their reunification with their loved ones, and to pray that this experience has not damaged the children forever.”
We light the candle to support each other in this fight against the powers that continue to harm immigrants. Our work continues and we sometimes feel said, hopeless, and oh so tired. But the battle must go on until this is done.”
Local dignitaries in attendance including Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu.