Rallies taking place downtown target separation of migrant families and other issues

Residents in and around Canandaigua concerned with what’s happening in Washington are taking to a park downtown to raise their voice. The latest gathering took place this Thursday evening in Atwater Park.

“There is no shortage of issues to bring attention to,” said Maria Bucci, an organizer also known for being politically involved with local Democrats. But the humanitarian crisis at the border and other issues cross political boundaries, she said. Those turning out for the gatherings, which attract anywhere from a small group to several dozen people, are coming from different viewpoints and political persuasions, she said.

A common theme is insisting representatives in Washington hear constituents’ concerns and respond.

“People are concerned with the state of affairs and administration policies,” said Bucci. Some of those attending recent rallies have been grandparents who in some cases wouldn’t otherwise come out for such an event. They are appalled by the treatment of families who crossed the border seeking asylum and insist they be heard, she said.

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families. The policy directs Homeland Security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the United States for prosecution. Church groups and human rights advocates have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

About 30 people from the Canandaigua area recently went to the Geneseo office of U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, to protest the policy. Collins’ district covers much of Ontario County including Canandaigua. Collins was not at the office, where protests have taken place by other groups including local attorneys with the national organization Lawyer Moms of America.

Collins later released a statement touting President Donald Trump’s handling of family separation and his own support for legislation Collins said would fix immigration policy. Collins blamed Democrats for the current state of affairs.

Bucci said periodic rallies downtown continue to draw attention and she plans for future rallies. For more details, email her at bucci4canandaigua@gmail.com