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Sanctuary Supporters to Hold “Memorial Service” at Local ICE Office

Photo: Betsy Blake / AFSC

Multi-city demonstrations will highlight lives lost due to deportation

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Large elaborate “gravestones” for a “memorial service” officiated by local pastors; supporters wearing black, holding candles and 10-foot banners

DURHAM, GREENSBORO, WINSTON-SALEM, NC (September 26, 2017) — On September 28, three undocumented families in sanctuary and their supporters in three cities will hold the first-ever simultaneous demonstrations in support of sanctuary in North Carolina. 

In Greensboro, supporters will hold a mock memorial service outside the city’s ICE office, while in Winston-Salem, Minerva Garcia’s friends and family will hold a mock funeral march, culminating in a rally and call to action. In Durham, supporters will gather at the School of Conversion for another memorial service.

“We know the names of dozens of people who have lost their lives after being deported,” said Rev. Julie Peeples of Greensboro. “We are determined not to let that happen to any of these three people.” 

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega entered sanctuary at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro in May of 2017, Minerva Garcia took sanctuary at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro in June 2017, Rev. José Chicas took sanctuary at the School for Conversion in Durham in July 2017. All three had been given final deportation orders by ICE after years of being told they were not a priority for deportation. They entered sanctuary as a last resort.

The groups are calling for congressional action to protect Juana Luz Tobar Ortega, José Chicas and Minerva Garcia from deportation. "Our congressional representatives have got to take action to protect our undocumented neighbors,” said Ana Blackburn of the NC NAACP. 

But event organizers say the potential impact of these actions extends beyond these specific cases. “This is about more than just these three people, and this is bigger than North Carolina,” said Andrew Willis Garcés, an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee. “Across the country, we’re seeing a movement to create sanctuary everywhere, to protect our communities from policies that seem designed to tear us apart, and to continue to advocate for a just and humane immigration system.


Greensboro: “Memorial service” in front of the local ICE office
Thursday, Sept. 28, 4pm at 2 Centerview Drive, Greensboro NC

Winston: “Funeral procession” from Merschel Plaza 
Thursday, Sept. 28 at 5pm at Merschel Plaza, 122 W 4th St, Winston-Salem, NC

Durham: “Memorial service” at the School for Conversion
Thursday, Sept. 28 at 6pm at 923 Onslow St, Durham NC 

WHO:  Family, friends and supporters of Juana, Minerva & José, the American Friends Service Committee of the Carolinas, Winston-Salem Sanctuary Coalition, NC NAACP, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Congregational UCC Church, and the School for Conversion in Durham 

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.