SEATTLE, WA — At 12:00pm on Monday, March 26th, a coalition of faith communities and advocacy groups, brought together by Valley & Mountain United Methodist Church, are gathering to celebrate a new holiday dubbed “Table Turning Monday,” with songs, speeches from local immigrant leaders, turning over tables, and demanding just immigration reform. The event will be at the I.C.E. headquarters in Tukwila.
Leaders from local Latino/a, Filipino/a, and other immigrant groups will be speaking about the effects of current policies on their communities, including Rev. Gerardo Guzman the pastor of El Dios Viviente United Methodist Church. Rev. Guzman accompanies congregants to immigration hearings frequently, sometimes multiple times in a single week.
DeAnza Spaulding, lead organizer for the Tukwila action and a researcher and therapist who works primarily with refugees who are survivors of domestic violence, says, “ICE and this administration’s targeting practices of immigrants create a toxic environment wherein domestic violence survivors are unable to report abuse without fear that they will be separated from their children, detained and deported. Since when has the practice of separating families been beneficial? It never has been— it’s an injustice and an abuse of power. To live under threat whether in your home or by the government is to be traumatized day in and day out”.
The founder of the Table Turning movement and convener of Valley & Mountain, Rev. John Helmiere, says, “The overarching purpose of turning over tables at a place like ICE is to reclaim the story Jesus from the religious right. Jesus disrupted the commerce during a busy holiday, chased out bankers, and invited excluded people into the city. The religious right promotes the story of a passive, non-political Jesus, but the Biblical story is that he was executed as a subversive enemy of the Roman state.”
While white evangelical Christian support for Trump has begun to slip, the Table Turning movement is gaining momentum with churches planning actions in California, Oregon, and Washington this year. Spaulding and her team are already preparing for a campaign to enable nation-wide reach of Table Turning celebrations in 2019.