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  July 9, 2017

Hundreds Rally in Baltimore to Defend Education and Immigrant Rights

TRNN speaks to students, educators and advocates taking part in a Unity March to defend immigrants rights as part of the 2017 Free Minds, Free People Conference
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Jaisal Noor is a producer for The Real News Network. His stories have appeared on Democracy Now!, Free Speech Radio News and other independent news outlets. Jaisal was raised in the Baltimore-area, and has a degree in history from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Nupol Kiazolu: It is our duty to fight for our freedom!

All: It is our duty to fight for our freedom!

Nupol Kiazolu: It is our duty to win!

All: It is our duty to win!

Nupol Kiazolu: We must love and protect each other!

All: We must love and protect each other!

Nupol Kiazolu: We have nothing to lose but our chains!

All: We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Nupol Kiazolu: We have nothing to lose but !our chains!

All: We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Nupol Kiazolu: We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Jaisal Noor: I'm Jasial Noor with the Real News. We're here at the Free Minds Free People conference in Baltimore. There's a march that's about to start in just a few minutes. They're waiting for the lat busload of people that is attending this conference. There's going to be some speakers here, which we're going to feature and then, we're going to be marching with the marchers and speaking to the students, activists, and teachers that have gathered from around the country.

Marie Mokuba: We're a youth-led organization in Baltimore. Basically, the youth run the space, we pay for the space, we pay for ourselves, we pay ourselves and basically, we advocate for other youth and educational reform in this city.

Christina: ... just come together and build politically, to see and learn what movements are going on in other local cities, so eventually, we can become a stronger network of people that do this together. I think it's great that we have a lot of youth groups.

Bree: I'm here because I work inside of a predominantly white institution with a lot of high-income students. I'm a low-income student, first generation, and I see a lot of things going on within me, my peers, and the groups I'm in-

Jaisal Noor: Can you say what institution?

Bree: The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I work a lot with students who are activists, social justice oriented, and doing civic engagement inside of communities. I'm just here basically trying to see how I can better support my peers, how I can become a better facilitator, and things like that.

Jaisal Noor: We're going to look at this poster board that's up. It's a poster of Donald Trump.

M. Hornbeck: In late February, early March, shortly after the new administration was installed, a father, Jesus [Peraza 00:02:15] dropped his son off at our school and quickly realized he was being followed by an unmarked car. He was picked up by ICE. They had a 12-year old deportation order. We held rallies. He's a breadwinner in the family, his wife was eight months pregnant with their fourth child. None of that mattered. The impact of having a father picked up right at school is devastating.

We had entire parent meetings dedicated to that issue. Unfortunately, we have to have trainings for parents who are concerned and at risk for ICE targeting them, where they would have to get their papers together and have a box in their house ... which is a crazy idea to have all of your identification documented, to have a letter notarized that says, "This is what should happen to my children."

Sebastian: I was born from the remains of a lost society, a place unknown to the [inaudible 00:03:28], a place in which the roaring sound of guns is used as lullabies. We tell mythical stories of kings giving their money for honor instead of giving their honor for money. I used to walk barefoot not because I was poor, but because it was possible for me to lose my ride for [owning 00:03:49] a pair of shoes. That's where I learned to call home. Those who dare to rebel against their system will find nothing but death and that's how they shut our mouths, that's how they kept us quiet.

Mamma Victory: If we're not fighting for the lives of every single one of us, then we may as well sit our [inaudible 00:04:10] down and go home. Are we going to change this? Are we going to stop this? We have to because if we don't, this is what our children are looking for. This is the legacy we're leaving for them and what a sorry legacy we're leaving for them!

Speaker 10: Whose streets?

All: Our streets!

Speaker 10: Whose streets?

All: Our streets!

Speaker 10: Whose streets?

All: Our streets!

L. Walther: We are here today in unity because we know that together, we have to defeat this. But, we need to know that this administration si not going to continue to terrorize us. What we're going to do is continue to organize and come together to ensure that everybody who is in fear is organized and informed, knows their rights, especially if there are raids. Get informed, get organized, and spread the word. We have a lot of the youth that are continuing this work and continuing to fight. How do I not only allow myself to become a victim of an ICE raid, but how do I prevent my neighbors from becoming victims of ICE raids, or my community? So, transitioning from victim to defender.

All: Shut down ICE! Shut down ICE! Shut down ICE! Shut down ICE! Shut down ICE!

Jaisal Noor: Do you think this is part of a new wave of actions?

Erika Strauss: I think the wave of action really is the underground organizing that's happening. I think this is one element of organizing and fighting back. Protests are one way of doing that. Yeah, I can show up for a protest, but what the people are really doing to not burn out and to not let it fizzle is doing the real work, doing the underground movements, the organizing, the getting the word out, the collecting power in that way. You know what? Those showing up only now are late to the game. This type of fighting, we've been in this forever.

All: [foreign language 00:06:03]!

All: Shut it down!

All: If we don't get it?

All: Shut it down!

Alvin: We are here. I'm an educator. I'm in a classroom in an institutionalized place of education.

Jaisal Noor: What grade?

Alvin: High school. I'm in high school. I teach ninth grade math and everything is connected. That's why all these people are out here. You got teachers, you got administrators, you've got youth, you've got professors, you've got everyday good people and everything is connected. We've just got to vocalize what we know is humanity and humanizing all of us.

Jaisal Noor: You know that traditionally, schools haven't necessarily been places of liberation or enlightenment necessarily. Talk about how educators like yourself are working to make it more of a place where that can happen.

Alvin: The main attempt that we're attempting to do is we're trying to decolonize the system in the sense that the system is not going to liberate the people that are falling under the oppression of the very system that it is. What they put on our plates through indoctrination and education is not what is going to make us free. The real truth is out there. Playing their game or not playing their game, we're trying to bring that into our systems, into our classrooms, into our institutions, and make sure that more people are simply aware and learning all this information because if we get that information in our head, it leads to habits, it leads to action, it leads to change.

All: Ain't no power like the power of the people 'cause the power of the people don't stop!

D. McAllister: We go into schools, we work with youth, and they're discouraged. They understand what's happening. They know that they don't have textbooks like the kids down the street because of the color of their skin. They understand that they're put in predicaments because of the color of their skin and it shouldn't be that way. They should have the opportunities just like the kids down the block that go to private school. I'm here to support causes like this and just to gain more knowledge.

Luis Navarro: I'm here because everywhere in this country, they need support from other states to support them. The battle is not just in little spots, it's little problems that is a bigger issue.


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