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Chester County Press

Editorial: The festival that will stop the machine

05/02/2017 11:11AM ● By Richard Gaw
“They shouldn't be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody. We're going to have a very strong border. We're going to have a very solid border where you have great people that are here that have done a good job. They should be far less worried.”
President Donald J. Trump, speaking about increased deportation efforts against Mexican immigrants

On Sunday, May 7, in the middle of what has been the most tumultuous four months in the lives of undocumented Hispanic residents in Chester County, the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival will turn State Street in Kennett Square into a multicultural carnival of color and flavor.
For several years, this event has served to usher in a full slate of street fairs and celebrations in Kennett Square, annually drawing thousands of visitors to absorb the Hispanic culture through arts, music and food, with the assistance of several organizations. This year, as immigration enforcement continues to dot the landscape of our nation's conversation and unfounded rumors about stepped-up efforts by ICE officials continue to be heard throughout Chester County, the Cinco de Mayo Festival in Kennett Square will never be more important. 
In fact, it may be the most spectacular, positive display of civil disobedience in recent Chester County history. For the past several months, there was wide speculation that the festival would be cancelled this year, largely to quell fears in the community that the festival would serve as an easy target for ICE officials. Indeed, immigration officials have targeted Chester County as one of their primary locations for arrests in the Northest region, and just last Wednesday morning, ICE officials made 12 arrests at a local mushroom processing facility.
Yet over the last four months, individuals, schools, businesses and organizations have banded together to form a circle of comfort around the local Hispanic community, recognizing them as our brothers and sisters and children, rather than just merely undocumented statistics who need to be weeded out.
Knowing how the fabric of the community of Kennett Square works the way this newspaper does, we reacted to Casa Guanajuato Kennett Square's courageous decision as no great surprise. A quick glance at the festival's sponsors reads like a tell-tale sign of support: Mushroom Farmers of Pennsylvania, Univision 65, Genesis, To-Jo Mushroom, Phillips Mushroom Farms, Chemours, Fulton Bank, La Communidad Hispana, and local Chevrolet and Honda dealers.
On May 7, beginning at 11 a.m., it will be your turn.      
In one of his most famous essays, Henry David Thoreau wrote that "if the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth -- certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine."
On May 7 on State Street in Kennett Square, you will be just one of thousands who will turn out to attend the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival. Let your voice be heard, loudly and joined with others, to stop the machine of injustice.