Bridges Not Walls event held in support of Summit County’s Mexican community
February 9, 2017
Scraps of red, pink and white paper were spread across three tables in the back of Carlos Miguel's Mexican Bar and Grill in Frisco. Piles of stamps and markers sat amongst groups of people cutting out paper hearts.
The event on Wednesday night was not just for arts and crafts. Both children and adults crowded around the tables, writing out valentines to the Mexican immigrant community of the United States.
Several members of the Summit community banded together to create the Bridges Not Walls event, looking for a positive way to reach out to Latinos both in Summit County and across the nation. After President Donald Trump signed an executive order that pushed construction for a wall between Mexico and the southern border of the United States, they decided it was time to do something.
"We felt like we needed to act," said Julie Sutor, a Frisco resident. "We want the people of Mexico to understand that our president does not have a mandate."
Sutor's neighbor, Mike Beerntsen, said that when they were planning the event they wanted to tie it in with Valentine's Day because getting cards is something everyone can relate to, even with a language barrier. The organizers decided that they would send the valentines made at the event to the Mexican Consulate in Denver.
For Beerntsen, his concern was what kind of message building a wall would send to Mexican communities in Colorado. To him, it generalized the values of people across the United States.
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"It's more than a physical wall, it's a metaphorical one," he said. "It's not by any means a united sentiment."
In addition to making individual cards, there was a large valentine that people were encouraged to sign. Another poster was displayed for people to write community values on. A large sign with a heart and the words "bridges not walls" written on it was propped on the wall. Organizers asked attendees to take a picture and post it to social media, tagging both local and national representatives, including President Trump.
Frisco resident, Kate Berg, said that national protests such as the Women's March on Washington have been inspiring people to do something to speak out.
"There's so many people that want to do something in an organized way," she said.
Berg said that as part of organizing the event she has also been reaching out to other groups in hopes of getting more people to participate and to look for future events. Based off the amount of valentines and an email list for people interested in future events, Berg estimated that 175 people went to the event at Carlos Miguel's.
She added that building the wall would be a waste of resources and would not protect the border from drug and human trafficking the way it is intended. Copies of Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements were also made available at the event.
Many people brought their children, using it as an opportunity to teach them about current political events. Dan Gibbs sat next to his 2-year-old daughter Grace, as she placed heart stickers on her valentine. Gibbs, who was wearing a shirt that said "refugees welcome, bring your families," said that has been talking to his daughter about respecting all communities.
"I very much believe in the big picture of building bridges not walls," he said.
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