Protesters demand ‘sanctuary city’ designation

Protesters demand ‘sanctuary city’ designation

By James Cullum (Photo/James Cullum)

Tuesday night’s city council meeting was interrupted briefly by protestors advocating that Alexandria declare itself a so-called “sanctuary city.”

Around 50 protestors with the Northern Virginia chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice collected at Market Square before the meeting, and many sat in attendance holding signs decrying white supremacy and the tenancy of the controversial cofounder Richard Spencer at King and N. Patrick streets in Old Town.

“We are certainly a welcoming and accepting city, but we are not a sanctuary city,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg after the protesters left council chambers midway through the meeting, singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

Silberberg then read passages of council’s Statement of Inclusiveness, adopted last November, in which the city was proclaimed a “hate-free zone.” The protestors called the statement a good start.

President Donald Trump last month signed an executive order authorizing the halt of federal grant funding to “sanctuary jurisdictions,” which are defined as municipalities that refuse to comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts. Officials in cities like Cincinnati have floated becoming sanctuary cities in an act of defiance against the order.

“Richard Spencer has arrived here and there has been an amplitude in white supremacy flyering in town,” said Cat Clark, an organizer with SURJ Northern Virginia.

“Alexandrians are not keen on white supremacy. But what we do want is for it to become a sanctuary city for refugees and immigrants.”