Elder Witness

by Lynne Iser, Philadelphia, PA

A group of older folks in my community of friends created an action that brought us together, connected us with other folks, young and old, and gained national attention—which hopefully will create more pressure on our government to stop its inhumane policies of detaining children.

We were galvanized by an email inviting us to create a “permanent presence of elders at the local ICE office” that was sent by Aurora. About 15 of us got together for a meeting. I facilitated the meeting. Liz took notes. Mark came up with the idea of “street theater”—creating a “detention center” from plastic garden fencing that we would erect close to the Liberty Bell. He wrote the script and made photos of the seven children who died in detention in the past ten months. Susan wrote the press release and created handouts. David and Toby brought a guitar and led songs.

We had great press coverage, and many, many other elders indicated they would want to work with us on future actions. We named ourselves Elder Witness. Sure, there were a lot of details to make this happen along with several meetings, but in the end our voices and values were heard and we felt strengthened by working together to address the difficult challenges we face as citizens, elders, and caring people. We intend to continue actions, invite others to join us, and hopefully have an impact on our future!


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