Back in front of the State House today for a march to support drivers licenses for all residents of New Jersey, regardless of immigration status. In this day and age, especially in densely populated states like New Jersey, adults need to be able to drive just for basic tasks of daily living—getting to and from work, taking children to school, going to doctors’ appointments. Driving without a license risks much more than the fines that citizens might face. It risks deportation. Loss of job. Destruction of a family. Driving is not a privilege. It’s a basic human necessity these days.
We gathered to support legislation in the New Jersey to authorize drivers licenses for the purpose of being able to operate a motor vehicle legally, not for all the other uses that licenses have come to have like getting on an airplane.
We started gathering after 10 am in front of the State House, the same place where many of the Poor People’s Campaign moral fusion actions took place. Many of the same State Troopers were monitoring this rally and march. One even asked an organizer if they were going to have to arrest people again today. She answered “We’re brown. We can’t risk it.” The stakes are too high. That’s what the rally was about. The stakes are too high for immigrants driving in NJ.
The rally did not begin with speeches, but with chants led by the Wind of the Spirit contingent. Other groups kept coming down State Street to join us in the chants. Here is my short video of the scene as Faith in Action arrives to join Wind of the Spirit in their chants. IMG_0627 Brian Lee’s longer video of the event begins with this scene. (Even though it’s on Facebook, you don’t have to belong to Facebook to see the video. Just reject the option to sign in.)
To me, one of the most frequent chants—Luchando creando poder popular. Fighting, creating popular power—was not just empty rhetoric. Being out on the streets, marching with the people who are under attack today, joining in their chants gives us the energy to continue to fight for human dignity.
The other day I was meditating in my apartment. In the plaza below, there is a lovely fountain that children love to play around. This day, however, I suddenly heard a young child crying “Moma, I’m here.” And, again. With fear penetrating the air, as this child cried out in terror that he didn’t know what had happened to his mother. Before I could get up to go out on the balcony to see if he needed help, the cries stopped. Then I started crying at the thought of all the children that our government (and we can’t wash our hands of our complicity), of all the children that are still separated from their mothers and fathers, locked in cages because of our government’s inhumanity and incompetence.
Today, marching and chanting in the streets of Trenton, we could take back some of the joy that the poet Diane diPrima says will remake the world. Our march took us from the State House along State Street and then down Broad to the War Memorial, chanting all the way. The picture at the head of this post was taken at the War Memorial. (I’m at the top right, in the yellow shirt behind the man in the blue shirt.)