A Tale Of Two Protests

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Image Courtesy Seth Eisenberg

On July 14th downtown Frederick hosted two, 287(g) rallies. One rally in support of the 287(g) program and one against.

The rally in opposition to 287(g) was organized by the Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment Coalition of Western Maryland (RISE).  They started off with 35-40 people at the band shell in Baker Park.  They left, holding signs and chanting (some in Spanish) as they headed toward Winchester Hall.  They marched in the middle of the street necessitating street closures and blocking traffic.

This group is upset that 287(g) is enforced in Frederick County.  In Maryland, under Section 287(g), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) trains local law enforcement officers in federal immigration law so county jails can help find and report undocumented immigrants. 

The pro 287(g) rally was promoted by the Frederick County Conservative Club.  They started in downtown Frederick with about 55-65 people.  They waved American flags and held signs supporting the 287(g) program and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. They also marched toward Winchester Hall chanting or singing the National Anthem.  They remained on the sidewalk. 

The supporters of the program arrived before those that disapprove and stood in front of Winchester Hall.  The Frederick City Police Department were on hand to insure the event remained peaceful.

Upon their arrival at Winchester hall, the anti 287(g) crowd began cursing and screaming at the folks on the supporting side who were chanting “Blue Lives Matter!” and “Support our Sheriff!” Those against 287(g) chanted back “Fuck the Police” and “We want Justice.”

The chanting duel lasted about 10 minutes when those in opposition moved on. Those supporting 287(g) moved to Market Street where their opposition soon showed up. The pro-ralliers sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The anti-ralliers became more aggressive screaming and yelling.  At one point the police had to put themselves between the two groups when those opposing 287(g) became openly aggressive toward some of the 287(g) supporters.

While that was going on another group of anti 287(g) protesters got in the face of some 287(g) supporters.  They screamed in their faces calling them “murderers” and cussing at them. After a little while both groups went their separate ways. 

All-in-all both sides of the protests remained relatively peaceful, if not loud.

There was an obvious contrast between the behaviors of the two sides.  The side that remained respectful though loud, appeared to be better received by onlookers. 

Passersby were put off by the “childish behavior” of those in opposition to 287(g).  One person walking past me said they reminded her of a “spoiled child that just got punished”.  She said they aren’t doing themselves or their cause any favors when they chant “Fuck the police” or yell and cuss at those who disagree with them.

I observed a flustered group of angry, unorganized opposition to whatever popped into their heads.  Their messaged swayed between pro-immigrant, pro-Black Lives Matter and defunding the police.  They were often yelling over each other, off message.

Fred Propheter, President of the Frederick County Conservative Club, said  “I was proud to stand with 60 plus Patriots in support of Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and his 287(g) policies, keeping our community safe.”  He went on to say “ It was quite telling that those of us that were there to support the rule of law, were cool, calm and collected; while the opposition were quite agitated, swearing and making threats and challenges. It truly was a stark contrast.”

This issue isn’t going away any time soon.  No doubt there are more rallies to come.  One side will rally around emotions while their opposition will be based in the rule of law and the Constitution. 

Where will you stand?

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