Rosalinda Guillen: ‘…it’s a critical moment for immigrant families, immigrant children.’ / Video Transcript, Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the graphic to access the Community to Community Development August 5, 2019 Facebook post of a video of Rosalinda Guillen who is picture in the screenshot of the post standing on a downtown Bellingham street corner holding a sign with a drawing of a red broken heart with tears and the name of the city of El Paso on it.

August 6, 2019 Dena Jensen

“So, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want politicians with us when they’re with us. But we will not be used for campaign photos. We will not be used as tokens to make it appear like they really believe in our movement, like they really believe in what we’re doing, like they will really protect our families. 
“We believe they won’t. It is an opportunistic, privileged action. ” – Rosalinda Guillen

At the Monday, August 5, 2019 Dignity Vigil held at the Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) bus station on the corner of Railroad Ave. and Magnolia St. in downtown Bellingham, Rosalinda Guillen, was in attendance. That morning’s vigil was held two days after the August 3, 2019 shootings in El Paso Texas, where twenty two people were killed and dozens more injured by a suspect who allegedly cased a Wal-Mart store, looking for Mexicans to kill.

Ms. Guillen is an ecofeminist leader and organizer at Community to Community Development, which according to their Facebook page is, “a people of color, women-led, place based, grassroots organization working for a just society and healthy communities.”

Ms. Guillen addressed community members in response to some comments, including one under the Facebook page profile, Vote Pinky Vargas, that had been made on a Facebook post of Ms. Guillen’s from early that Monday morning. Below is a screen shot of that Facebook post:

Click the graphic to access the pictured Facebook post on the Community to Community Development Facebook page. The screenshot is of an August 5, 2019 Community to Community Development Facebook post with text above a photo of Bellingham City Council Member Pinky Vargas in a pink dress and white shirt, holding a newspaper, standing in a grassy area in front of an outbuilding with a few other women around her in summer clothes, one of them carrying a sign at an angle where the print is not legible.

Below is the transcription of Rosalinda Guillen’s remarks at that August 5, Dignity Vigil addressing the issues surrounding her Facebook post:

“I think it’s important, because I don’t know how many of you have seen the post that I posted this morning, which I don’t think is a big deal. It should be normal, right?: to say what you think about local politics, especially on such a serious issue. But this sign [which depicts a broken heart and the name of the city of El Paso] is part of the reason I did that.

“This political moment, and I’ve said this before, we’re in such a critical moment right now when it comes to immigrants, when it comes to Latinos and when it comes to our democratic process, what little is left of it. We’re all leftists, progressive people, organizers that have been involved for a long time and have never been satisfied with our system.

“We have lived through racism, we have lived through oppression. I have grown up as a farm worker as a second class citizen in this County and in Skagit. Edgar – we know what it’s like to live with the failures of the current civic engagement process and democratic process. Yet, we still believe and have hope. And there’s still an option for us to try to fix it.

“So, we continue plugging on trying to find the good in everybody, trying to find the good in the system, trying to fix things so that our children and our grandchildren will not have to put up with the shit that Edgar and I and Lucy and many of our other constituents have put up with. We’re trying. And we’re trying within the system, and within the law, and with no violence, and with respect. And we try to respect everybody and give everybody their dignity.

“When you have the kind of candidates that you have running for City Council today in the face of this [indicates sign she is holding depicting broken heart and name of city of El Paso] in the face of white nationalists just – killing us, organizing against us, using their laws to kill us, we cannot be nice and let people like Pinky Vargas and April Barker ignore the reality of what’s happening to us and run a campaign like nothing is different this year, like nothing is different since 2016.  

“It is different. And they need to do better.

“And if we get one of them as a mayor, our job and our life is just going to get tougher and our work is going to get harder – because they have already been given the chance to do the right thing. We gave them that chance. We used the system and the process to give them a chance. We handed them the language, the legal language to do the right thing.

“We brought our community in and they poured out their hearts to them, publicly, with a very heart-rending way. They listened for hours. We were there till eleven o’clock at the City Council chambers. And then they unanimously, within minutes, voted us down, just – and brought out their own ordinance that they had already written. They had already made their decision.

“This is the type of politics that April Barker and Pinky Vargas do. This is what they do. And one of them wants to be mayor. God protect us. Two of them want to be mayor, right? One of them will be mayor, maybe. [community members call out “No, no!”] 

“We don’t want them as mayor, because they have a lot to learn to represent everybody in the City and to do the job of governing. They’re not like our neighbor down the street, right? They’re not like just any other person. They’re politicians that are professionalizing the political job here in Whatcom County. 

“They’re not ready to govern us, because we believe they will not represent those that are vulnerable in our community. They have a lot more to do to prove to us that they’re actually interested in governing in a fair way, representing everybody. We don’t believe they’re ready for that.

“They can run again next time. They can run again next time. They can run over and over and over again. This isn’t a critical moment for them, it’s a critical moment for immigrant families, immigrant children.

“This weekend, Sophia, a little one year old is gonna spend her birthday without her father, because he was deported last August and they have said nothing about it. They haven’t addressed it, it’s like we don’t exist, like the issue doesn’t exist. And this is why incidents like El Paso happen. This is why we get shot and killed.

“So I posted what I think is a very benign statement, basically giving my opinion as a citizen, and as a voter, of what I think. And I put that out there because she stopped at our action [referencing a stop made by Pinky Vargas at a designated rest area for marchers during the Farmworker March for Dignity, held August 4, 2019], she came into our space, uninvited, campaigning in the mainstream way that politicians do, and we do not like that.

“So, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want politicians with us when they’re with us. But we will not be used for campaign photos. We will not be used as tokens to make it appear like they really believe in our movement, like they really believe in what we’re doing, like they will really protect our families. 

“We believe they won’t. It is an opportunistic, privileged action.

“So, read the post. You can respond how you want because I respect everybody’s positions. I know she has supporters and voters. That’s fine. Go for it. Right? It’s okay. That’s the step for all. This is the United States of America and we’re supposedly able to do this. 

“So, I can do it too. And so can you. Thank you!”

Screenshot of a video frame from a Community to Community Development post of Rosalinda Guillen standing on a cement area near a street corner in downtown Bellingham holding a cardboard sign with a drawing of a red broken heart with tears and the name of the city of El Paso on it


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