About a hundred people gathered Sunday afternoon in the Loop to call for protection for Haitian asylum seekers and demand answers for the mistreatment of Black migrants at the southern border.
A half dozen Haiti flags waved as chants of “Haitians are humans” and “Haitians are somebody” echoed throughout Federal Plaza. Many supporters also held signs at the rally; some read: “Let the Haitian stay in the nation” and “Haitians need protection not deportation.”
Many rally-goers said they were disgusted by images that have gone viral of horseback-mounted Border Patrol agents with whips chasing Haitians trying to cross into the United States.
“We will not tolerate that. That is inhumane. That is not American,” Patrick Brutus, president of Haitian American Professional Network, told the crowd Sunday.
“It’s the worst treatment I’ve ever seen of people on American soil in my life,” said Jonathan Jackson, national spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
“Every time I’ve seen Haitians in need and Haitian women coming with their children, I’ve seen the United States military meet them with guns and arms, and that’s not right. It hurts me to say that we have to repeat: Haitians are humans... Who would have believed that this much racism would have made it into the new millennium?”
President Joe Biden condemned the officers for using horses to charge at migrants last week and warned there will be consequences for those involved.
Several notable attendees at the rally organized by a coalition of local Haitian-American organizations included State Rep. La Shawn Ford, Ald. David Moore (17th) and the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who recently recovered from COVID-19.
Brutus said he felt inspired by Sunday’s turnout but stressed the importance of people continuing to advocate for Haitian migrants by contacting state and federal officials and donating to funds that provide support for asylum seekers. He also encouraged people to continue to educate themselves on the situation and Chicago’s historic ties with Haiti, including Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, who’s credited as the city’s first non-Indigenous settler.
“People who [know] that story, they will have a greater sympathy for situation that Haitian people are facing, and certainly they will feel also part of our story, so that they can all step in and do what we all want to do, which is ... be united and work together as one community,” Brutus said.