Evanston leaders, faith community hold post-election unity rally


Daniel Tian/Daily Senior Staffer

A crowd of around 200 Evanston residents and faith community members met at Fountain Square on Sunday afternoon. The event was organized to show solidarity with those in the city feeling marginalized after the recent presidential election.

Kristina Karisch, Reporter

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said at a rally on Sunday that she hopes Evanston will seek to alter its code to ensure federal authorities cannot ask the city to hold people they are looking to deport.

Tisdahl reaffirmed Evanston’s status as a sanctuary city, saying the term means city police do not ask about people’s immigration status.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily last week that although there are multiple definitions of “sanctuary city,” he believes Evanston classifies as one.

“The threat is they’ll cut off federal funds to every city that is a sanctuary city in the United States of America, and if we give in to that threat Trump wins. So what are we going to do?” she said. “We are going to go forth from here … I’m terribly proud of Evanston: we love one another, we celebrate diversity.”

Tisdahl made the comments at a rally in Fountain Square on Sunday organized by community faith leaders with the intention of standing with minorities and people of all religious beliefs in response to Donald Trump’s victory on Nov. 8. A crowd of about 200 people gathered to hear speeches from Tisdahl, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and several faith leaders.

The focus of the rally was a statement from Evanston interfaith clergy, city leaders and community members outlining their commitment to maintain Evanston’s inclusiveness in the wake of the election.

“We who are representatives of faith communities in Evanston are resolved to stand in mutual solidarity with those groups who may be exposed to undue suffering as we move into a new season in our nation,” the statement reads. “We will stand, lock arms, listen to and speak with, struggle and, if need be, suffer to protect the rights of those in our community and nation.”

Tisdahl accepted a stack of poster copies of the statement signed by community members, planning to hang them in and around her office and the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

Tisdahl also urged the crowd to encourage people they know in other cities to petition for their cities to become sanctuary cities.

“We need every city in the United States of America to be a sanctuary city,” Tisdahl said. “So Evanston, get out there and make it happen.”

Diane Pezanoski, a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, told The Daily she came to the rally to show her support for religious freedom.

“Everyone must work locally to make sure there is no Islamophobia, that there is no sexism, racism, misogyny,” she said. “Everyone needs to take care of their own corner of the earth, to band together with their neighbors because once you get to know people, you see how love can cross boundaries and faiths.”

Tahera Ahmad, Northwestern’s associate chaplain and director of interfaith engagement, said during the rally that hate crimes have increased since the election, but she has received support from friends. One friend promised to add her own name to Trump’s proposed “Muslim registry,” even though she is Jewish, Ahmad said.

She said Americans should stand with Muslims who are against intolerance.

“We want this country to be a safe country. We want this country to be a country for all people,” she said.

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Twitter: @kristinakarisch