On Saturday, June 30, a Families Belong Together & Free Rally was held in front of the Federal Building in Downtown Sacramento. The purpose of this rally was to decry the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy and to demand an end to the cruel separation of families at the border. Sacramento ACT was excited to participate and engage the faith community to lift up a united message that, as stated by Pr. Elizabeth Griswold, every family is a holy family!
However, we feel that an event that was intended to showcase a unified message and community, ended up being subverted by some who chose to be disrespectful when Cantor Julie Steinberg stood with her husband, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, to share a message as a Jewish faith leader. Cantor Steinberg was there to speak as a representative of Congregation B’nai Israel, a member of Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT) and a Sanctuary Congregation. Unfortunately, as she began to speak, people in the crowd began chanting and booing her husband and eventually she was forced to step down from the microphone, unable to complete her remarks.
We understand that people have the right to express their different perspectives and views. However, booing someone who is speaking in good faith and being disrespectful to anyone who is standing with others for what is right, is never acceptable. SAC ACT brings together people from different faith backgrounds and seeks to find common ground. We must always be respectful as we speak our truths - whether or not we are in agreement with one another. In this time when civility is lacking in our public discourse, it is incumbent upon us as leaders to demonstrate that positive change can happen by working together towards common goals. Sacramento ACT will not participate in public rallies/demonstrations that foster disrespect of participants and which do not move us towards a better world that we are all striving for. We have begun and will continue to discuss ideas about preventing or handling these kinds of situations in the future.
We are proud to work with Congregation B’nai Israel, its faith leaders and members, and our Mayor, not just in our immigration work but across the spectrum of our efforts for justice and equity in Sacramento. We are also hopeful about the coalition of organizations that has been coming together to address and support immigrant issues. We know we need every single one of us to be working together towards justice and change. We will continue to explore and engage in efforts that build bridges across difference and lift up the dignity of all families.
Rev. Dr. Joy Johnson Tere Flores
President, Sacramento ACT Acting Director, Sacramento ACT