A Father’s protest against U.S. immigration policy

Jesse Stevens of Sweden leading a protest on Father's Day in Pondicherry Square in Bridgton.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

As a father, Jesse Stevens felt he had to speak up.

And, what better time than on Father’s Day?

For three hours, Stevens and a small group stood in Pondicherry Square in Bridgton and protested the federal government’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border and Homeland Security’s “zero tolerance” policy.

“The heartbreaking news of parents and their kids being ripped apart at the U.S./Mexico border, and children as young as toddlers being locked away from their guardians was shocking to me,” said Stevens, a resident of Sweden. “As a father myself, I felt no choice but to speak out against this practice on Father’s Day and give a voice to those families who are being so brutally affected by the Trump administration’s new policy.”

Stevens feels holding children hostage in order to gain some political advantage or to deter those seeking asylum is “calculatingly cruel and inhumane.”

“We are a nation of immigrants, and this goes against everything our country stands for,” he said.

Reaction to the protest was mixed.

Stevens says the thumbs up, waves and beeping outnumbered the negatives (thumbs down, shaking heads) by at least a 5-to-1 margin.

“I saw several cars where the guy gave thumbs down and the woman gave thumbs up. The puzzled looks were my favorite, as my hope was to inform people what is taking place. Some people seemed to be trying not to look at all,” Stevens said. “One fellow tried to debate me as he drove past — don’t harass and drive! Another couple guys did stop to try and convince me my perspective was wrong. When they failed at that, they resorted to personal insults, which were not fit for print.”

One kind lady stopped and handed out water bottles to all the demonstrators.

“(It was) much appreciated as it was quite a hot and sunny afternoon,” Stevens said.

Stevens plans to continue organizing demonstrations at the same location Sunday afternoons between 2 and 5 p.m. until this matter is resolved in a fitting manner.

“I hope that others who feel as I do will join me.  The corporations who are profiting from this should be outed and boycotted,” he said. “I urge folks to contact our members of Congress and the Department of Human Services, and to remember this in the voting booth come November.”

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