By Julie McCay Turner
Photographs by Emily Mitchell
With the actions of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) holding unaccompanied children apart from their parents along the southern US border so much in the news, local protests at Burlington’s ICE District Headquarters took place on both Tuesday, June 26 and Wednesday, June 27.
Bedford resident Brown Pulliam walked in Tuesday’s protest on his 88th birthday and returned for Wednesday’s march. Pulliam feels strongly about putting himself on the line in protests he cares about and has been arrested before, most recently at a 2016 Spectra pipeline protest in West Roxbury. His arrest with climate activist Tim DeChristopher and others was noted online in the New Yorker magazine when Judge Mary Ann Driscoll vacated their arrests using a necessity defense. Click this link to read the New Yorker article.
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Tuesday’s event, organized by Na’aseh, the social justice group of Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, drew 210 protestors, many of them rabbis from the Boston area. According to Na’aseh, “[Tuesday’s] Jericho Walk is a silent interfaith prayer and act of solidarity. The walk draws inspiration from the Battle of Jericho, in which the community marched around the city of Jericho seven times, causing the city walls to fall.
“The Jericho Walk of today is a silent, peaceful, and prayerful walk to bring down the walls of our unjust immigration system and is open to people of all or no faiths.”
Bedford resident Rabbi Susan Abramson represented her congregation, Burlington’s Temple Shalom Emeth, at Wednesday’s march. “I just became a founder of a new group called BAC4J, Burlington Area Clergy 4 Justice, along with Rev. Angela Wells, Rev. Trina Portillo, Rev. John Gibbons and Chais DiMaggio,” said Rabbi Abramson. “Our mission is to plan Jericho Walk rallies at the ICE office in Burlington to protest the horrors that are going on now with the separation of families and the cruel treatment of immigrants.” Although Wednesday’s demonstration was smaller, it was populated by local activists, many from Bedford including kids and one baby in a stroller.
Monthly walks are planned at the ICE District Office in Burlington on Tuesday at 1 pm on July 17, August 21, September 25, October 16, and November 20.
Reflecting on his protests in a telephone interview on Wednesday evening, Pulliam described seeing both joyful and poignant scenes in Burlington. At the beginning of Wednesday’s demonstration, a Central American man was released to the cheers of the demonstrators; at the end of the walk, Pulliam observed a handcuffed woman leaving the building in custody, headed to an uncertain future.