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Vigils To Be Held Around Tampa Bay To Protest Immigration Detention Centers

Lights for Liberty poster shows a little boy reaching towards the Statue of Liberty while being pulled away by a hand.
Lights for Liberty
Lights for Liberty events will be held in Tampa, St Petersburg, and Sarasota on Friday from 7-10 p.m.

Around the nation on Friday evening, groups are gathering to hold vigils for the migrants being held in immigration detention centers.

The ceremony, called “Lights for Liberty," includes events in St Petersburg, Tampa, Lakeland, and Sarasota.

In Tampa, the event will occur at Centennial Park in Ybor City, in St Petersburg, it will be at Allendale United Methodist Church, in downtown Lakeland near Munn Park, and in Sarasota at the Unconditional Surrender statue on Island Park Drive.

The goal of Lights for Liberty, according to organizers, is to shut down immigration detention centers.

Rose Gwynn, one of the people behind the Sarasota vigil, said it’s an event for people of all ages, genders, and political affiliations.

"We're past the point where this is a political conversation, this is now a conversation about our humanity. As a country, how do we want history to look back on the choices we made during this time?"

Gwynn said she hopes the event will inform people how they can get more involved in supporting migrant rights and affect change.

Attendees will listen to speakers talk about the treatment of people in immigration detention centers.

“We’re gathering to have a candlelight vigil to acknowledge and honor the suffering that refugees and immigrants have suffered under our current administration, including the family separation policies. We’ll be honoring the migrant children who have unfortunately died in U.S. custody,” Gwynn said.

At the Tampa event, participants will meet at Centennial Park in Ybor City and then march to US Customs and Border Patrol office on 7th Ave.

There are nearly 3,000 people who have responded to the Tampa Bay area Lights for Liberty vigils on Facebook.

At the event in New York City, activist Linda Sarsour and actress Rosie O’Donnell are on schedule to speak.

Sponsors for Lights for Liberty as a national event include the United Farm Workers Foundation, Postcards for America, and American Federation of Teachers. 

Carrie Pinkard is the Stephen Noble news intern for the summer 2019 semester. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in English, before heading to USF St Pete to pursue a master’s in journalism.