Community marches to support Syed Jamal

Students gather to show solidarity for the local father of 3

By Macy Landes, Newspaper Editor

On February 8, several students marched in solidarity with Syed Jamal’s cause. Jamal is in danger of deportation after being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents while helping his children, students at Free State High School, Southwest Middle School, and Sunflower Elementary School, get ready for school.

The march, organizer Eleanor McCormick said, was a celebration of the courts granting him a temporary stay the week prior – since then, the stay has been revoked by a federal immigration judge, then reissued by the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia.

“It is important that immigrants in our land know us for our love and not for our hate and not for fear,” she said to the crowd gathered in Lawrence Creates Makerspace.

Currently, Syed is being held at a detention center in Hawaii, and Republican Lynn Jenkins has introduced a bill that would keep Jamal in the country. On February 14, it was confirmed by an attorney that Jamal will be back in Kansas for his case.

“Call your Congresspeople, especially Lynn Jenkins, who has taken an interest in re-opening Syed’s case,” junior and Young Democrats club president Derek White said at the march, before the second stay had been announced.

Co-organized by the Islamic Center of Lawrence and Plymouth Congregational Church, the gathering before the march included stations to make posters, and live music performed by freshman Giovanni Ventello.

“A lot of my good personal friends are running this, and I mean Syed’s oldest son goes to FSHS and he’s as old as me,” he said. “It would be hard for me to not help out.”

Other students had a personal connection to the march, too – junior Andrew Anderson’s mom was one of the organizers of the event, and knows the family personally.

“Don’t deport people like this, people that clearly benefit society, it doesn’t make any moral sense,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t make any sense in terms of benefiting society, there’s no real logic behind it….If you are going to deport people, don’t deport people like Syed and similar cases.”

The marchers chanted only one phrase as they walked – “free Syed Jamal.”

“I think if you have enough people saying the right message, it does work,” freshman Zora Lotten-Barker said. “People hear when you say, as a community, that we won’t let this happen and he matters and immigrants matter to our society.”