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Local Businesses Step Up to Support the Legal Defense of Families Separated at the Border

In response to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy of separating immigrant children and parents at the U.S. southern border, Buffalo media and promotions company Rise Collaborative has teamed up with Tipico Coffee and a host of other local businesses for a multifaceted fundraising blitz to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its mission to put an end to the practice.

The fundraising effort offers anyone outraged or grief-stricken by images of screaming babies being ripped from the arms of their parents and children sleeping on concrete floors an avenue to take a stand against government-sponsored inhumanity.

“We know there many people searching for something to do, knowing that shares on social media and even contacting their elected officials can be fruitless,” Rise cofounder Kevin Heffernan said in an email.

The blitz kicked off last night with the online sale of solidarity t-shirts designed in tandem with Positive Approach Press. The shirts bear the slogan “We Are Immigrants” and an image of the continental United States, and will be on offer through June 28, with 100 percent of sales going to the ACLU.

Efforts will continue Thursday, June 21, at Tipico Coffee, when and where 50 percent of all sales generated between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. will be given to the legal defense organization. In addition, Tipico will be tapping a keg of kombucha donated by Buffalo Barrel + Brine, with 100 percent of sales of that beverage going toward the cause. Zoom stepped up with free signage for the event.

That day, City Lights Studio Photography will also be onsite offering a portrait pop-up from 6 to 8 p.m. For just $50 (reduced from $250), attendees will have a chance to refresh their professional headshots or capture photos with family and friends. City Lights Studio will donate all of its income that evening to the ACLU and will offer complimentary portraits to refugee and immigrant community members as an added service.

In solidarity with the community-wide effort, Love in Motion Yoga will likewise donate revenue from its regularly scheduled June 21 classes to the ACLU. Classes are held at LIM’s studio on Niagara Street.

The ACLU advocates for the constitutional protection of due process for all persons on U.S. soil, calling the erosion of immigrants’ fundamental rights a discriminatory, hate-fueling practice and a dangerous precedent:

“When the government has the power to deny legal rights and due process to one group, all Americans’ rights are severely threatened,” the ACLU said in a statement.

As for the Buffalo business community’s decision to get involved, it was simply a matter of humanity.

“It was the language coming from the White House, the Attorney General’s Office, and around social media of ‘illegals,’ ‘animals,’ and ‘infest,’ coupled with the audio track of children screaming in their internment camps captured by ProPublica that roused us into action,” Heffernan said in an email. “This is all too eerily familiar to other tragic episodes of world history, and we’re done tolerating it.”

To purchase a “We Are Immigrants” t-shirt, click here. To view the Tipico event on Facebook, click here. To learn more about the ACLU’s efforts and how you can take action, click here.

Written by Caitlin Hartney

Caitlin Hartney

Caitlin has covered local food and drink for Buffalo Rising since 2015, having previously written for Artvoice, the Public, and the Buffalo News. She works full time in marketing communications and is earning her master's degree in history at University at Buffalo, the latter of which occasionally informs her writing. Most importantly, she likes the word "moist" and doesn't care who knows it. How else do you describe a great piece of cake?

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