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Vigil at Manchester's City Hall supports refugees, Muslims


MANCHESTER — About 30 people held a vigil outside City Hall in Manchester Tuesday night in support of the Queen City’s refugee and Muslim immigrant population, after two aldermen voiced support recently for President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The vigil was held just prior to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

“Our refugee and Muslim friends are directly impacted by the ban,” former school board member Kathy Staub said in a statement. “Families remain separated. On top of that, nice people are getting harassed and intimidated in public. Discriminatory policies like the recent travel ban only make things worse.”

In an article published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Jan. 27, Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann and Alderman at Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur expressed support for the executive order prior to its signing, saying individuals should be properly vetted before entering the U.S.

Vigil organizers said residents came together to remind officials that Manchester is a “Welcoming City,” and they have a duty to support all people living in the city regardless of their country of origin or religion.

Several vigil participants came inside City Hall to address the aldermen during a public comment period.

“I am here tonight to ask you tonight to stand against the Trump ban,” said Linda Thomas Ganesh of Manchester. “The ban is dangerous to America. Manchester has always been a welcoming community, a salad bowl full of fresh new faces and ideas. Our country has always been the home of the brave and the free. Please show the world that Manchester stands with refugees and Muslims.”

“This is a welcoming city for all races,” said Manchester resident Jim O’Connell.

“I want to ask you to continue in the spirit of welcoming the newcomer,” said Kim Calhoun of Manchester.

Late Tuesday on a motion by Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long, aldermen voted 13-1 to reaffirm Manchester’s status as a ‘Welcoming City.” Nick Pappas of Ward 6 was the lone dissenter.

“I know I received several calls with concerns from the refugee community,” said Long. “They went through what we never went through. I think we need to reaffirm the vote we took in becoming a Welcoming City by pledging to support them. This is a real fear to them. I can’t relate to that, but speaking to them I see that fear.”

“If you are here legally, you have nothing to fear,” said Levasseur.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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