Hundreds of kids filled the steps of the Ohio Statehouse Thursday chanting for change.
They were incised by immigration policies pursued under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Specifically, they were concerned about the Zero-Tolerance policy and the separation of families at the border.
Several pre-teens took to the microphone and spoke from their own prepared remarks which meandered as you would expect a young person’s thoughts to do so and unlike the structured arguments an adult would construct. This gave an authenticity to the children’s thoughts and opinions.
The speeches were almost entirely free of the measured rhetoric you hear at rallies where one side is in obvious and staunch opposition to the President’s policies.
The kids spoke from the heart and were energized by the dozens around them, all who appeared to share the same concern that kids were being kept apart from their moms and dads.
Some of them had felt that sense of dread and panic that claws at your being when you cannot find the one person who will protect you from anything.
Morgan Jackson, 12, was one such child. She lost her mother in a department store and it was deeply scary for her. She says, she cannot imagine what it would be like to be ripped from her parents for days, weeks, or months without any indication when she could see them again.
Earlier in the day, a group of parents and children occupied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in downtown Columbus.
They say several dozen people entered the office in the LeVeque Tower and immediately met resistance. They were asked to leave and the police were called.
There were no altercations with police in Columbus Thursday and no one was arrested.
The protestors demonstrated for 33 minutes inside the office and outside of the building.
The length of time was significant to them because they claim 33 children have been separated from families here in Central Ohio.
Meanwhile, back on the steps of the state capitol State Representative Hearcel Craig addressed the kids and parents in attendance.
He thanked them for what they were doing, noting their involvement in Freedom Schools over the summer was a grand tradition extending back decades.
The activism they are learning is laying the ground work for future endeavors as they become full-fledged teenagers and eventually voting members of the public.
Afterward, Craig admitted he had become quite emotional standing in the crowd watching the youth of the city stand up for what they believed in.
They are the future, and they are leading according to Craig. He says, we ought to pay attention to that.