By Hairo Cortes, Chispa
This weekend, Garden Grove’s Atlantis Play Center played host to the We Celebrate Sanctuary Here: Viet and Latinx Community Festival. Organized by VietRISE and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the celebration became the latest in a series of events VietRISE has hosted in Little Saigon to uplift immigrant communities and press Orange County’s elected officials to denounce hate and defend the human rights of immigrant and refugee communities.
“With this cross-cultural festival, we are building toward what we know is possible–that all communities deserve dignity and human rights–that the power to defeat the forces of hate and fear is in our hands, in our words, and in our voices,” VietRISE’s event page read. “And that we can achieve this together.”
The festival follows in the footsteps of a march in Little Saigon where more than 300 supporters took to the streets to condemn the concentration camps that now line the southern U.S.-Mexico border, as well as a city council meeting in Westminster where the group and dozens of residents condemned the city’s leaders and the OC Board of Supervisors for taking positions against the California Values Act, the state’s sanctuary law.
“The Vietnamese, refugee, and immigrant communities in Orange County benefit from these state laws that protect our dignity, our human rights, and we expected our officials to protect the laws that make us safe,” the Aug. 5 letter submitted by VietRISE to the Westminster City Council read. “We consistently showed up to [public] meetings to make this message clear. Instead, you sided with Trump, and turned your back on us.”
The festival hosted activities like lantern making and screen printing, as well as resource booths from local community organizations like Korean Resource Center, ACLU of Southern California, El Centro Cultural de México, and Chispa.
The event’s biggest feature was its artistic and musical performances, with local poets like Đỗ Nguyên Mai and Scott Keltic Knot, and local artists like the soul, hip-hop and cumbia-infused Weapons of Mass Creation.
It also brought the NDLON-founded band Los Jornaleros del Norte back to Garden Grove. The group will always share a connection with the city through their song “Ese Guey No Paga,” which was inspired by the plight of Garden Grove resident Jose Ucelo, a day laborer who was placed in deportation proceedings after a wage theft contractor called the cops on him.
As the festival wrapped up, VietRISE’s Executive Director Tracy La took the time to recap the event’s importance and the need for Vietnamese and Latinx communities to come together to defend the human rights of migrants and stand up against white supremacy. And VietRISE, being the organizers that they are, asked all in attendance to sign their petition demanding the county’s elected leaders do the same.
Deport This! is a partnership between OC Weekly, Chispa and Orange County Immigrant Youth United. The column is a rebuttal of Donald Trump’s racist politics and his OC cheerleaders, who’ll no doubt get triggered every week with news and views by and about the undocumented community.