By Imari Rede
‘Coming out of the Shadows’ van arrives in Riverside and welcomes undocumented people to share their story
The Inland Empire chapters of the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Black Lives Matters and the Palestinian Youth Movement hosted a “Coming Out of the Shadows” rally in front of Riverside City Hall on March 29.
“Coming Out of the Shadows” is the IYC’s 12-day caravan focusing on immigrant justice and surrounding issues within communities of color.
The caravan will run from San Diego, up to Sacramento. Riverside was the third of nine stops on the caravan.
“As the IYC, we stand for abolition. Abolition of borders, detention centers and oppressive systems. Today we come together in solidarity. We are interconnected and we have community power,” said Brayan Cruz, an Inland Empire IYC organizer and University of California Riverside student.
The rally invited people to come out as undocumented and encouraged them to share their stories of incarceration, deportation and the struggles that come along with those experiences.
Part of the rally’s goal was to highlight community issues at each stop of the caravan. Yocelin Saucedo, a member of BLM Inland Empire shared community concerns of Riverside’s recently passed Measure Z.
“Measure Z is a 1 percent tax that is to fund community needs. Money will be going to fund the police, essentially militarizing them, buying weapons, cars, and body cams that can be turned off. We don’t need that. As a community, we need after school programs and homeless shelters, we need support,” said Saucedo.
“Black and brown students need support. We need to be proactive and not reactive by ending the school to prison pipeline,” said Darrin Johnson, a local substitute teacher.
A large focus of the rally was centered on ending incarceration of brown, black, queer and transgender people.
John Perez shared the story of their detention as a genderqueer, black and undocumented Colombian.
“Living with those intersections was scary, how could I be queer there?” said Perez.
As the rally ended, the attendees and caravan participants closed with chants and words of solidarity.
“Being undocumented is very scary and sometimes lonely. Navigating spaces like college and other institutions magnifies that feeling because these places were not built for people like us. I need to change that and that why we’re here. It’s beautiful to know I am not alone in this fight,” said Aurora Gonzalez, a Riverside City College student.