WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — An event to shine a light on families held in detention camps on the U.S. southern border spanned five continents, and hit home here in the Columbus area.
Westerville was among a number of Columbus-area locations that hosted a Lights for Liberty vigil held to draw attention to the plight of families being held in the detention centers.
Organizers of the event said it is vital to get the families released.
Many of the people at the Westerville vigil said that as parents themselves, seeing videos of children in cages and sleeping on the floor made them think of their own children.
The group said all they can do is imagine the horror the children are going through at the detention centers at the border.
“It’s very shocking,” said Vashitta Johnson. “At this point, there are better ways we can handle immigration issues without having people locked up and detained and not knowing when they’re going to see their parents again.”
Johnson watches the news daily and seeing the images is hard.
“As you can see, I’m a mother and I couldn’t imagine what some of these parents and caregivers are going through right now,” she said.
Johnson was one of approximately 100 people at the Westerville vigil.
Organizers like Sandra Weisner said more of the vigils need to happen in order for the nation’s leaders to understand the message.
“Let the children go,” Weisner said. “Get them back with their parents. This is stupid.”
Weisner organized speakers and child experts to attend the vigil and speak about the mental effects being separated from their families is having on the children’s mental state over time.
As a child counselor, Parker Huston already knew the extent of the possible damage to the children.
“Especially early on in life, it disturbs the formation of and understanding of what family means and safety and security means to them,” Huston said.
Weisner said it hurts her to her core when she thinks about the children being separated. Right now, she sends her love to each of those children.
“We love you, we love you,” she said. “And it’s just, you deserve better than what we are doing. You deserve better. You’re children of God and this should not be happening.”
Organizers said they hope to plan more events like Lights for Liberty until all the families are reunited and free.