Kids’ Detention Center Protest Set For Saturday

Jim Naughton is not sleeping well.

The Tony Award-winning actor is haunted by images of children kept in horrifying conditions in detention centers on our nation’s southwest border.

He is surprised and distressed that Americans are not rising up in protest over the separation from family members, lack of access to basic sanitary conditions — and deaths.

So he’s taking action.

Naughton — a longtime Weston resident — enlisted the help of fellow humanitarian Ken Bernhard. The former Republican state representative, 3d selectman and volunteer board member helped found the Syria Fund, which aids refugees; the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, and the Soles4Souls shoe drive.  

This morning, they arranged for a protest march this Saturday (June 29, 10 a.m.) on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge in downtown Westport.

“If our neighbors in Westport and Weston have been waking at night, as I have, horrified by the news of the way our country is mistreating children, and would like to do something, please meet, demonstrate and march with us on Saturday,” Naughton says.

“We hope to bring attention to what’s going on. We need to let our representatives know that we want this situation addressed now. It can’t drag on.

“This is a humanitarian problem. People of every political stripe who find this abhorrent are welcome.”

67 responses to “Kids’ Detention Center Protest Set For Saturday

  1. Adam Vengrow

    Might be better to try to raise money, politics today is a joke on both sides, we can get people on the bridge but everyone goes home the next day and turns the page. Yes the situation is horrendous, decisions have to be made. Disgusting to see kids treated in such despicable ways.

    • Mark L Yurkiw

      Why not do both…go to the bridge and have a donation bucket at either end of the bridge on the centerline people can toss money into. I have seen Firefighters do this in small towns to raise money. With crowds on the bridge, traffic slows down enough to do this safely.

  2. Kristin Schneeman

    A recent NYT editorial had some useful ideas for action, including specific organizations we can all support doing good work on these issues. There will also be a vigil in NYC on 7/12.

  3. Best way to solve this problem is to send them back to their home country along with the adults that brought them here. Then build a wall along the border.

    • Cristina Negrin

      Holy cow are you for real????

      • YES! We have too many people here already. Have you tried to drive the Merritt Parkway or the GWB lately? Even places like Texas and Florida are overcrowded. Every new person uses water and creates garbage and sewage. We have limits!

        • Cristina Negrin

          Um yes and that’s why we are 20 years late to keep up with improving infro structure are you blind? AND we need the tolls like it or not if it’s going to get done. Stopping immigrants won’t fix our long over due over crowded I95 and the crippled Merrit Parkway.

        • Mary Cookman Schmerker

          Dear Mr. Herman, I am a native Westporter but I now live just south of Houston Texas. Today we drove our older Son to the “close in Airport”, Hobby. You would be amazed at the open spaces. We are not crowded. Yes, our highways are crowded because we insist on driving our own cars with just a driver to and from work and we refuse to invest in mass transit. Now I know that Westport has mass transit into NYC. And I still have relatives in Fairfield County so I get back on a regular basis and know well the problems on I95 and the Merritt Parkway. We have failed to keep up with infrastructure. There is room here for all. In addition we have a legal responsibility, yes legal, to provide for true refugees. As a matter of fact our son’s friend is a lawyer and we were talking to him over dinner last night about “our refugee” problem. Something needs to be done that is humanitarian. We need to stop belittling others and talk civilly to each other. Perhaps even compromise. Now that is a novel idea! We need to listen with hearing ears and caring hearts. By the way, I am a refugee and I bet you are also. My family hit the shores of Boston in the 1600’s looking for religious freedom. How did you get here and when?

        • Richard Fogel

          will you and your family pick fruit and vegetables? Will you cook in our local restaurants for substandard wages? Will you massage our feet and cut our nails? Will you work in Delis and local markets for sub standard wages? Will you work at Trump golf courses and hotels for sub standard wages? Will you paint our homes? Will you and your wife and children babysit our kids at substandard wages? Will you perform high quality labor for our Westport builders who hire you and The Herman Family to landscape? roofing? Painting? Masonry? Frame? Dig ditches? Let me know . Why do so many Trump people run businesses on the backs of,undocumented labor? Why do local realtors sell homes build by undocumented labor? Why dont you call ice? Why dont you demonstrate to have ice visit the local Westport car washes, markets,deli,massage and nail salons,restaurants,and have the local builders and realtors testify under oath about hiring practices? Lets do it.

    • I sure as hell back your proposed solution Dan. Despite fact my own solution, though also effective, is somewhat more severe.

  4. Seth Goltzer

    Where was Mr. Naughton and his friends when Mr. Obama built these Centers and detained thousands of Children during his Administration?
    Or is this just a political stunt.? Hypocrites!!!

    • Harry Smiley

      He’s not losing sleep. All Bs!

    • Russell Gontar

      Sorry Seth, but the policy of separating children, including 5 MONTH OLD INFANTS, from their mothers/families was created by Trump, not Obama: https://time.com/5612868/trump-obama-family-separation/. And this cruelty policy was created to deliberately inflict suffering so as to “deter” others. Please stop lying about President Obama.

    • David Stalling

      I don’t know Mr. Naughton. But every person I know who is concerned about the way children are currently being treated in detention centers were also concerned when children were being mistreated in detention centers when Bill Clinton was president, when George W. Bush was president, when Barrack Obama was president and now. There’s is a heightened sense of urgency now, and a growing demand for action, because President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy resulted in an increase of family separations (which former Chief of Staff John Kelly was done as a “deterrent”) and an increase in the number of children being detained. I see no hypocrisy. Everyone I know — Democrats, Republicans, independents — all seem to agree that children being detained should have clean, healthy facilities and be treated with kindness, dignity and respect.

      • Cristina Negrin

        Donald Trump initiated the separation of children from their parents and or guardians period. Yes there were for facilities for children but not for all children traveling with their guardian. This is all on Trump

        • David Stalling

          Mostly. Not completely.

          Family separations and detainment of children occurred under past administrations. President George W. Bush began the trend of a “zero tolerance” in 2005, but exceptions were usually made for adults traveling with minors. Parents suspected of committing crimes were sometimes separated from their children.

          During President Barack Obama’s administration, the focus was on deportation of immigrants who committed crimes, which led to several hundred family separations and detainment of children. During the 2014 we detained unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America. Under Obama, the Department of Homeland Security built family detention centers in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Texas. Unaccompanied children were kept in holding cells.

          But the problem has grown exponentially since Trump took office. His “zero tolerance” approach — intended to deter immigration — has led to the separation of thousands of families and the detainment of thousands of children (about 2,000 between April 2018 and June 2018 alone.)

  5. Tom Feeley Sr.

    Protest Nancy & Chuck for deliberate procrastination that caused the overflowing detention centers.

  6. Cristina Negrin

    I’m feeling sad for these comments here and now your comments are a bit too white and selfish for me these are children! Nothing about this separation is ok

    • Elina Lublinsky

      “comments are a bit too white”? Care to elaborate on this observation?
      In the meantime, here are some more comments you can consider. Hope they are not too white or too anything.
      https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/president-obamas-strong-message-immigrants-24325936

      • Bruce Kent (S '55)

        Easy Elina, a lot (not all I am happy to see) of the people get really confused and upset when confronted with FACTS. Either believe as they do or suffer the their wrath and angst.
        Good link – should shut them up. Unfortunately, it wont.

        • David Stalling

          Confronted with “FACTS” by a “good link” that “should shut” some people up? The link is an interview with then President Obama stating that parents shouldn’t send their kids unaccompanied to the border because it could be very dangerous and they may not make it . . . And if they do make it, they will be sent back. I don’t know anyone — Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian or otherwise — who would disagree or argue against that. What’s at issue is how those kids are treated and cared for while being contained. Am I missing something here? What did President Obama say that should change people’s mind?

  7. OMG people. We are talking about little people – children. Do you really believe that parents would lead their little babies into such conditions? We are not talking about criminals – but huddled masses yearning to be free. Corny? Maybe. True – pretty much. Thank you Mr. Naughton. I will be there. Beautiful little babies xxoo.

  8. Richard Fogel

    This is how jesus christ teaches us? Is this what evangelicals and christians learn in church? Does any one read the Torah , old testament,new testament ? This is the republican party. Disgusting. The repugnants.. Our neighbors. Disgusting The re re gun licans

  9. Jeff Arciola

    So let them all in. Pay there medical and give them food and free college. Me and my family love paying for illegals. Maybe the liberal media can show how disturbing the top Democrat Nancy Pelosi takes care of her district Homeless everywhere on the streets. Human feces on the sidewalks and drug paraphernalia everywhere. Start taking care of the wonderful veterans that fought for this great country and stood and respected the flag unlike a soccer player who can’t respect the National anthem when representing our country in the World Cup. Go try to cross the Mexican border and see how they treat you. So maybe ask Nancy Pelosi what she does for people of San Francisco. My family immigrated from Italy to Saugatuck legally. They got shit. My family worked hard and served in wars and many combats and never asked this county for a dime. COME IN LEGALLY. So leave the nanny’s at home drive your Mercedes or Range Rover and go to California and see how disgusting this country treats its own people. Get out of the bubble it’s ok.

    • Lauren MacNeill

      Jeff, First as Greg said this is not an immigration debate. We need to help these children. BUT if you do want to debate the immigration issue, they are coming here legally. I know you don’t like facts, you just like to spew your hatred, but its legal to seek refuge just like your ancestors did. Also, if you can get off the right wing propaganda long enough you could learn that these people that come here contribute more to the community than many who were born here. They don’t cost us.

      • Jeff Arciola

        They don’t cost us. Seriously Lauren. Get your facts straight. Stop drinking that kool aid. And watching Rachael Maddow.

    • David Stalling

      1) At issue is the treatment of innocent children at detention centers. They should have clean, healthy living conditions and be treated with dignity and respect. I would hope we could all agree with that?

      2) I lived in the Bay Area for awhile and spent a ton of time in the 12th Congressional District of California in San Fransisco. (Nancy Pelosi’s District.) Yes, I saw homeless people, but no more than I’ve seen anywhere else I’ve been. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homeless rates are declining in San Francisco while rising elsewhere. All in all, San Francisco is a very clean, beautiful, friendly, expensive city with a lot of very wealthy and successful people. I’ve walked all over that city, and although I did see some naked men walking around the Castro District, I did not see homeless people everywhere on the streets. Nor did I ever see any human feces on any sidewalks or drug paraphernalia everywhere (although I did purchase a bong in the Haight District).

      3) The people of Nancy Pelosi’s District seem happy with what she’s done for them; the keep re-electing her.

      4) I sincerely appreciate your concern for we veteran’s if the great nation. (I spent my youth in a Marine Corps Force Recon unit). I can’t speak for all veterans, but I will say this: I took an oath risked my life to defend and protect the Constitution and American principles and ideals such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to protest and freedom of choice. If someone chooses to not stand for our flag, or uses it as a form of protest, that’s fine with me. That’s the freedom I defended; use it!

  10. Greg Naughton

    Come on folks, this is not a republican or democrat issue. This is a humanitarian issue. Nobody should be okay with the mistreatment of innocents– no matter what decisions their parents have made. And no matter what you think about walls or immigration– lets demand our leaders find a much better way to handle these children asap.

    • Lauren MacNeill

      Thank you Greg, Could not agree more. This is an atrocity.

    • I like your sentiments, but unfortunately the issue has been politicized. Look at the comments in this thread.

      • Russell Gontar

        What’s obscene is the sight of mothers and their children being sprayed with tear gas by the good old USA and the sight of a dead parent and his dead child dead face down in the rio grande.

      • David Stalling

        Yes, immigration has been politicized and polarized. But I don’t see how that should stop us from setting aside our differences and working together to demand that innocent children be provided with clean, healthy living conditions and be treated with dignity and respect.

    • richard fogel

      it is a democrat vs republican issue. In the real days of republicans Imwould agree with you Greg. That day is over. Trump has destroyed the republican party that I had respected and listened and learned from. Todays republicans are extremists,cowards,spineless Russian lovers and dick tator lovers. They love dick. Like ted is a dick coined by Dan . The parkimg Dick license plate TED

  11. Raymond F Skidgell

    Fogel you are as big a disgrace now as you were in 07. Foul nasty and full of hatred. This is not your private forum. You take pleasure in hurling insults. Only makes me more proud of my party and my President.

    • Richard Fogel

      i know your master hurls no insults. He is compassionate and kind. He is a man of Jesus Christ. If your rich and famous you can do anythiong you want to woman. Even grab them by the P. God bless America and Trumps prostitutes and hands.

    • Bruce Kent (S '55)

      Agree Raymond. that cat Fogel is really vile. I keep trying to post this article about him, but PC Police won’t allow.
      https://westportnow.com/index.php?/v2/comments/17686/

      • Please stop lying, Bruce. Your comment is posted here, AND above underneath Jeff Arciola’s. I am not censoring you. I never have. Feel free to apologize

  12. Paul Argenio

    Reality check. If the Democrats thought that those invaders breaking into this country were going to vote Republican, that wall would have been built 100 feet high a long time ago.

    • David Stalling

      The topic at hand is the health, wellness and treatment of children being detained. But since you bring up the wall:

      I don’t agree. Most Democrats I know (and many Republicans) have read and understand the overwhelming amount of research and data that not only shows how ineffective a wall would be at stopping immigration (illegal immigrants at capable of going under, over and around walls — and even float across the vast amount of ocean between the U.S. and Mexico), but also many other issues, including: The cost-prohibitive nature and technological difficulty of building a wall in much of the rugged, wild, mountainous terrain between the U.S.. and Mexico; the detrimental impacts it could have on wildlife, particularly threatened and endangered species such as desert bighorn sheep and pumas; the issue of water rights for ranchers, farmers and others who live along the border (A 1970 treaty requires that the floodplain of the Rio Grande remain open to both sides of the border); the issue of private property rights (private individuals own more than two-thirds of borderland property. Private parties own the vast majority of the border in Texas. The George W. Bush administration threatened to sue private landowners if they did not “voluntarily” hand over the rights to their land. It offered no compensation for doing so. Thinking that they had no recourse, some people signed off, but others refused. The government then attempted to use eminent domain, a procedure Trump has long defended, to seize their property, lawsuits have imposed serious delays — seven years in one case.)

      “Build a wall” makes for a good campaign slogan and chant for rallies. But in reality, it’s a bit complicated.

  13. Bruce Kent (S '55)

    Dan – If you require an apology, you most certainly have it. Whilst you and I are polar opposites in just about everything, cordial civility is not one of them.
    I’ll even go a step further and offer you an explanation: Subsequent to my first posting, I went back onto the site and did not see it; hence, as is my custom, I leapt to conclusion that it had been edited.
    If you were offended, I apologize. It was unintentional.

    • Thanks, Bruce. Sometimes it takes a couple of minutes for posts to appear. That’s a WordPress issue. Apology accepted. I will continue to allow you and everyone else a forum to express all kinds of views, including (especially) those I vehemently oppose!

      • Bruce Kent (S '55)

        Good to hear Dan, and for the record I was not “Lying”; I have not found it necessary to indulge in that since I was a small boy. Mistaken for sure, lying no way.
        So, if you feel it appropriate to offer your apology to me for accusing me of that please feel free to do so.

        • To use your phrase, “if you require an apology, you most certainly have it.”

          • Bruce Kent (S '55)

            No Dan, I do not “require” it, but if you feel one is warranted now that both you and I have the full picture then feel free.

  14. Cristina Negrin

    Dan, sometimes I wish there was a “Like” button next to comments. Too FB? There have been times when I would post one (Don’t add an angry button tho)

  15. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    I’m not sleeping well either. So many of these comments make me sad. This is a humanitarian crisis. These are children who will carry the emotional and physical scars with them all their lives. I am really surprised by the many uncaring responses. This is not a red verses blue/ right vs. left issue. These are children. They deserve humane treatment. From what I have read It seems as if we are not treating them as well as we threat repeat offenders in prison.

  16. What kind of a country are we that we let things like this happen?

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker

      Very good question!

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Simple, a country where politicians find it more expedient to posture about the problem rather than take action on behalf of their LAWFUL constituents.

  17. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    Agreeing with Cristina,Mary & Bobbie’s comments, here.

  18. Dick Lowenstein

    Isn’t it time to close the comments?

  19. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Since the immigration crisis seems to be at the top of everyone’s list, why not go down to the bridge, singing songs and carrying signs (mostly saying hooray for our side) and DEMAND that Congress go into emergency closed door session and not emerge until they have emerged with an actionable policy. What could be more fitting than to work through the 4th weekend to get this done.

  20. Adam Vengrow

    Many people should be ashamed, its laughable that people blame this on political parties. Some comment below calling republicans disgusting is a generalization made by ignorant thinking. There are good and bad in all political parties. People should stop blaming the political party they disagree with. If you want to help a refugee, open up your home and bring one in. If that is not an option, go raise money and help. The country is broke and we have terrible poverty in many corners of the US that need help in addition to those coming in because this is still the greatest country on earth. Every is full of words and air but how about we get people that take on a cause and do something about it. Protesting on a bridge in westport will accomplish nothing more than a channel 12 story. Get on a plane, go to the border, donate and support and create change, that is how progress is made.

  21. Frannie Southworth

    Wow. The issue is innocent children being traumatized and abused. Does it have to be your child or grandchild for some of you to feel the inhumanity of this? Some of these comments are shocking. These children are being treated worse than animals going to slaughter. There are thousands of these already traumatized babies and children from being separated from their parents, put in cages and sleeping on cement floors with no way to stay clean, who are being sexually abused on top of all of this. Visualize your child at age 4 in these conditions. If you feel nothing, I pity you and will truly pray for you. Thank you Jim Naughton for organizing this very important protest. Bring checks for the International Rescue Committee. They are rated highly. This is a humanitarian crisis. Hope to see many of you tomorrow morning.

  22. Letitia Massey

    Please quit the name calling. It’s so impossible to read any blog when the emotions run so high that all you’re left with is hysterical name calling.

    There are points on either side that are valid and yet NO ONE wants to see suffering. There is also suffering that can not be captured in a photo though.

    I also understand the legislation requiring separation is not new to this administration.

    Whats the solution? Is it the separation itself that is intolerable? Is it the conditions? Should it be more of a suburban gated community look? How do you properly care for these folks when the courts are so backed up to hear their cases?

    Don’t you want to deter more families? Wouldn’t they be better off fighting in their own countries for better conditions?

    I love when people are generous with other people’s money. How much money do we spend when actually you guys are all forgetting that we are running huge deficits that our children will be burdened with!!

    Instead of criticizing- come up with solutions that can reduce the numbers of families crossing because the reality is that the processing time is currently years! People know that and still cross – because they are still better off -that’s the crazy thing.

    • Letitia, it’s not “impossible” to read my blog, no matter how strongly people react. Just don’t click on the comments section!

      • Cristina Negrin

        I agree with Dan and I enjoy his posts and am interested to read all of the comments no matter how bizarre they sometimes get!