Last week, on Wednesday February 27th, Nopalera Artist Collective hosted a variety of actions in solidarity with the U of U M.E.Ch.A students, as well as the local Brown Berets chapter here in Salt Lake City.
These actions were in response to recent banner drops organized by people outside of Utah, bearing anti-immigrant sentiments on the University of Utah and downtown Salt Lake City . We coordinated with members of our collective, as well as local artists, activists, and organizers, to send a message of love and resistance. We started with the unfurling of our community made banner that read: “Immigrants Make Our Community Great”.
Alongside over 300 high school students from all over the valley, we held our banner as we chanted back and forth “Who makes our community great? WE DO”, and chatted with the students about the importance of rising up in the face of hate, of connecting with each other, and of learning of the beauty of our culture.
Unlike those who visited our state, our banner was hand made, and completed by the students, who personalized every butterfly on the banner with messages of hope for each other, and solidarity.
Nopalera Artist Collective and The Rose Park Brown Berets successfully held two community workshops on that day, on the very same spot where just a few weeks prior flyers that read “Stop The Invasion, End Immigration” had been found. We taught over a hundred high school students how to deal with xenophobic and fascist messages, how to remove stickers safely, and how to make their own messages with art and story. We also chatted with them about their own survival and resilience.
“Given the recent actions done by outside white supremacist groups, the Rose Park Brown Berets feel as though it is not only important to organize a response, but to also utilize these attacks as an opportunity to create and engage an affirmation of solidarity and communal protection that we know we have. This is how we show our strength, through solidarity. That is why the brown Berets are honored to be apart of these actions and workshops with the Nopalera Artist Collective and the University of Utah MECHA chapter. Our youth can guide us to a new movement, a movement of self reliance, liberation, and solidarity.” says Carlos Martinez, of the Rose Park Brown Berets.
” The immigrant community of Salt Lake City is big, and beautiful, and loud. From the youngest to the oldest, we are people who love each other and take care of each other, and we will not stand for racist fascist messages being spread in our community. You call us invaders, when the real invasion began via colonization over 500 years ago. You say you are here to “Defend Utah” when truly you have come to attack those who make this community truly great. Immigrants are the heart and soul of this city, you see us everywhere, why do you hate us so much? Does it make you uncomfortable how unapologetic we are? How strong we are? We will not apologize for our immigration status nor for our resilience, nor for our resistance. We are proud of being here.” says Ella Mendoza, co-founder of the Nopalera Artist Collective.
Together local artists helped each other make signs afterwards, for future rallies and events in the Salt Lake Valley. Smiling faces in paint stained clothes helped each other walk around the banners, at a local venue downtown.
“Art is the glue that keeps us together, it gives us a sense of connection, you can try to promote hate here, but love will always win.” stated Hemp, member of the Nopalera Artist Collective.