From Milford to Washington, Democrats uniting and speaking out

About 20 new people showed up at last week’s Democratic Town Committee meeting, and the committee chairman says it’s in reaction to the new Republican president.

“We have folks from both sides of the aisle coming out,” Democratic Town Committee Chairman Rich Smith said. “Listen, any thoughtful person who is paying attention to what’s going on right now is terrified. We have a man in the White House who is so incredibly unprepared, unqualified, impulsive, immature, and narcissistic — and therefore dangerous. The damage he has already done and is clearly capable of doing is frightening.”

Smith said the Milford Democratic Town Committee will be mobilizing to fight against issues of discrimination, war crimes, economic justice, and for the protection of women and minorities as well as a vast list of other issues.

“What makes our country great is not jingoism or hatred or bigotry or violence,” Smith said. “What makes us great is tolerance and inclusion, building partnerships around the world and using our country’s strength to pursue the good. As someone said recently, we cannot be great if we are not good.”

There are signs of movement and protest afoot in and around Milford.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who represents Milford, vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s travel bans, saying on Twitter this weekend, “The law is clear. The #MuslimBan is illegal.”

The President last Friday afternoon approved a “sweeping executive order that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen,” the New York Times reported.

That order impacted a Milford family, and earlier this week Murphy contacted the family of Fadi Kassar, a Milford resident from Syria, to work to reunite Kassar with his family. Despite securing refugee status, Kassar’s wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 8, were stopped from boarding their flight to the United States as a result of President Trump’s executive order blocking all refugees from coming to the United States. According to an NBC Connecticut report aired this weekend, Kassar has been separated from his family for more than two years.

Murphy said his office is working actively with the Kassar family, immigration lawyers, the U.S. State Department, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“My office is doing absolutely everything we can to bring Fadi Kassar’s wife and two girls to Milford,” said Murphy. “Our country’s greatness is staying true to our tradition of rescuing people from terror and persecution. It’s been only a matter of days since Trump ordered this executive action, and we’re already seeing the inhumane, dangerous, and real life consequences of it coming to light. I’m rattled to my core but I won’t stop fighting to make it right.”

Murphy introduced his legislation Monday afternoon to reverse President Trump’s restriction on refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East. On Friday, he penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post about the executive order entitled, “How Trump Just Made America Less Safe.”

Rallies have been held in nearby cities and towns in recent weeks, and one was held in Milford on Inauguration Day, organized by groups who disagree with many of the promises Trump made as he was campaigning.

On Inauguration Day, members of the group Milford Speaks Out argued for causes and ideals they believe will be compromised under a Trump administration, from environmental issues to women’s rights to affordable health care.

The message on the steps of City Hall was that people need to fight for issues that are important to them. Barbara Milton, a local environmentalist and member of the group, said people can make a difference themselves in terms of the environment, by recycling, using less water and paying attention to energy and environmental laws. Elizabeth Wright, another member, said people need to continue to support public education.

And member Jeanne Cervin told the crowd, “We are not here in protest, but in solidarity. We will speak out, and stand up.”

Carole Walker, another Milford resident, is getting involved in local politics — something new to her. She attended last week’s meeting of the Democratic Town Committee with a goal of getting involved and making a difference. Walker attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, and upon her return wrote of what she saw there.

She said she met women who were angry and felt they were fighting again for battles already won.

“Yes, this anger was real,” Walker wrote in a letter to The Milford Mirror. “Yes, this dismay and fear was palpable. But this Million Women’s March, for the friends in my group, for the many people I connected with and expressed in the speeches of the many speakers — Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd, to name a few — appeared to be about rising above the anger, about saying ‘yes’ to solidarity, passion, unity, strength, compassion, the courage and conviction to speak out and, above all, the one thing without which nothing else seems to really matter — Love. “Love Trumps Hate.”