Monday, July 20, 2020

Item Number Three

Meanwhile, back to Saturday’s protest in Old Ellicott City. I’ve received some positive feedback from readers who were there. In reading Ana Faguy’s article in the Howard County Times, I noticed that a coalition of groups worked together to coordinate the event:

The protest was organized by a number of local social justice organizations including HoCo for Justice, CASA, Howard County Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Indivisible HoCo and Audelia Community Response Team.

Saturday’s event was the culmination of a number of similar actions held over the past months to call attention to this issue. Recently, two representatives from the County Council have lent their voices to the cause: Deb Jung and Liz Walsh.

This got me thinking.

I noticed that the young people of HoCo4Justice published a list of demands in advance of Saturday’s protest. 

It’s fairly comprehensive and speaks to far more than the Howard County ICE contract. Something on this list jumped out at me. Item number three:

Make Howard County a Sanctuary County.

The fact that Howard County is, at present, not a sanctuary county is through no fault of County Executive Ball, who, as a Council Representative, laid it all on the line in efforts to get the now-defunct CB-9 legislation passed in 2017. Despite a solid core of support in the County, the measure was defeated largely by efforts of the angry, vocal, matching-t-shirts-and-signs crowd. 

It was ugly. 

But wait - - now that we have Council Representatives Jung and Walsh stepping up to support social justice issues, this could be exactly the right time to get a sanctuary county bill passed. Now, I am making an assumption that Representives Jones and Rigby could be relied upon for their votes. No one expects David Yungmann in District 5 to vote yes, but that would still be a healthy 4-1 vote.

In March of 2017 I wrote:

As Americans we must have more than an unthinking acceptance of what some call "routine law enforcement." The laws are there because We, the People, have endorsed them. Looking at the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the law involves deeper thinking. It challenges us. And this particular issue requires us to see not just with our brains but with our hearts as well. Without empathy we are simply routine enforcers.

Are we nothing more than that? Are we not meant to stand up for what we believe is right?

I hope that Jung and Walsh will build on their social justice activism and get Sanctuary County legislation on the agenda as soon as possible. The opportunity to form a coalition with their other Democratic council members could not come at a better time, as descriptions of dysfunction plague coverage of recent council meetings. 

Of course, to the young people of HoCo4Justice it is only one item on a very big list. But for Jung and Walsh it could be career-defining legislation and evidence that they are truly willing to walk the walk in lifting up the vulnerable. It could be a win-win.

Couldn’t it?

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