Lowcountry rallies against gun violence, highlights support for Latino community

Rally held in Bluffton against guns, ICE raids

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Wednesday’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi are having an impact on the Lowcountry.

What was described as a prayer vigil against the recent gun violence in El Paso and Dayton turned into so much more. The rally was in front of businesses that are almost all owned by Latinos who live in the Beaufort community.

The event showed support after recent gun violence toward Latinos, but now, specifically, after ICE arrested nearly 700 undocumented workers in Mississippi. People attended the vigil in Beaufort to make a stand against the recent violence.

“These are people who did not die accidentally. They were murdered by people who were using the same common denominator: guns," said Mitch Siegel, Lowcountry Indivisible.

At least 31 people died in under 24 hours after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend. The Lowcountry community says their hearts are still breaking.

“What do we do to make sense of something so senseless and so violent?' asked Rev. Therese Donlan Lee, Senior Minister.

Lowcountry Indivisible and Moms Demand Action hosted the community-healing vigil calling for legislative action against guns, but the tone and message quickly shifted after the surprising ICE raids.

"This is just a huge example that hits you over the head, and hopefully, wakes people up. Hopefully, you’ve seen the pictures of the little girl crying for her mom, and the kids in the gym waiting for their parents to come back,” said Aimee Deverall, an attorney with Deverall Immigration Law.

The Latino community in Bluffton says both recent events targeting immigrants is traumatic. WTOC spoke with Jesus Reyes, who told us how desolating this week has been for him and his family.

“We feel very sad, because we feel the hate, the way they disrespect us as Latinos," Reyes said.

Reyes says usually, the Latino community is seen together and united. Thursday night, he didn’t see that. Many believe their community in Bluffton is scared any one of those events could happen to them.

“I am really proud and happy to see a lot of Anglo-Americans here supporting us as Latinos," Reyes said.

The ICE raids took place on some of those children’s first day of school back in Morton, Mississippi.

Beaufort County Schools return to school, Monday, Aug. 19. The local Latino community is working to make sure children will feel safe returning.

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