Hundreds protest U.S. immigration policies in Columbia

Photos by Allen Wallace.

Several hundred people gathered at the State House Saturday afternoon to protest the U.S. government’s immigration policies.

The “Families Belong Together” rally was part of a national protest, with more than 700 events covering all 50 states and drawing hundreds of thousands of people, according to USA Today.

In Columbia, speakers addressed the crowd from the State House steps in both English and Spanish, calling for the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (known as ICE) and an end to zero tolerance policies.

“We will shut it down. We will keep families together. And we will stand up and fight back,” said Julie Edwards, co-chair of Indivisible Midlands.

Protesters also lined the sidewalk on the north side of the State House along Gervais Street, waving to cars, holding signs and chanting. No supporters of the current immigration policies came forward during the event.

Many of the protesters carried American flags, with one woman holding hers upside down. She explained that U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 (popularly known as the Flag Code) says the flag should fly upside down “as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property,” and in her opinion the present state of affairs qualifies.

President Donald Trump did not make a public appearance Saturday, but issued the following statement via Twitter.

“The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great! To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen.” ​

Categories: Columbia, Politics, Richland County