Bethel World Outreach Church Choir sang with great spirit as nearly 500 Montgomery County residents gathered together with common purpose on March 14, 2019. Rev. Haywood Robinson prayed with the crowd, asking for justice for the members of AIM and the members of our community.
The evening started with AIM leaders urging Montgomery County into a new era. An era where our county confronts and deals with the real problems that particularly face people of color and low-income people in our community.
Breaking News on Immigration—County Exec. Elrich Nearly Doubles Funding!
Afomu of Bethel World Outreach Church shared her heartbreak of being forced to return to Liberia on March 31, a country she last saw 29 years ago when she was 11. She will have to make the terrible decision of whether to bring her two young, U.S. Citizen children with her to a country none of them know, or leave them in the U.S. with strangers. These are the terrible decisions thousands of families in Montgomery County and Maryland face.
County Executive Marc Elrich committed to nearly double the county’s funding for legal fees to $540,000 to help protect immigrants from deportation, and to provide AIM leaders with a list of potential private sources of funding for the same effort. The Councilmembers—Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Sydney Katz and Hans Riemer—agreed to support Elrich’s proposal and provide additional potential sources of funding.
Strong Commitments to Expand After-school and Renovate Schools
Ms. King, principal at South Lake Elementary and Ebony Contreras, a parent from Burnt Mills Elementary, shared about the need to after school programs, parent leadership training so that parents can act on the issues facing their families, and the long-overdue renovations needed at these high-poverty schools.
The councilmembers committed to expand the Excel Beyond the Bell program and parent leadership training, and to include funding for renovations in the two schools in the budget this spring! Thank you to them for their commitment!
Commitments to Build Affordable Housing on Public Land
AIM leaders asked the County Executive to use his power to develop affordable housing on public land through the County and by asking WMATA to halt the sale or lease of their land until we can meet and discuss how to prioritize affordable housing on WMATA land. County Executive Elrich committed to find 3-5 pieces of land for housing development in the next few months, and to send a letter to WMATA. All five councilmember present agreed to sign on to the letter.
AIM Commits to Continue the Work
Pastor Charles Tapp of Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church reminded AIM leaders that, “fighting for justice is our business. . . just as Jacob in the Old Testament told the angel as he wrestled with all night long, “We’re not going to let you go until you bless us!” For the justice that God wants is not a justices that is just-us, but it is jus-tice that is for all.” By the end of the evening, AIM committed to have 137 leaders at the County Council budget hearings on April 9 and 10 to support AIM priorities.