A few hundred Dearborn residents came together outside of the Dearborn Police Department on Friday evening for a candlelight vigil to show their support and mourning for the people of Palestine. Organized by Dearborn resident and activist Laila Abunab-Elabed, the event called for peace and liberation in Palestine.
As the crowd formed, children were invited to gather in front where they each received a paper sign to wear. The signs each read the name and age of a child killed by airstrikes in Palestine. A few dozen children ranging from toddlers to teenagers stood in front of the crowd quietly, with many turning to wave at parents and smile for pictures.
“I have all of you guys behind me,” Abunab-Elabed said to the crowd as the group of children formed in front of her, “I have all of you guys behind this community and a community that is behind humanity.”
Dearborn lawyer and poet Hassan Salamey stood with the children while he read a poem and prayer to the crowd. “In order for you to journey with me,” Salamey began, “I need you all to close your eyes, take four deep breaths.”
As the crowd stood and listened with their eyes closed, Salamey spoke on the importance of unity and understanding between various faiths and backgrounds. His poem continued, “Tonight we stand as the unified children of Abraham, as the sons and daughters of Muhammad, Moses and Jesus.”
He closed with a prayer in Arabic, before leading the crowd in a moment of silence.
Following Salamey’s reading, the children returned to their families as attendees helped each other light their candles one by one.
Abunab-Elabed spoke once more as the candles were lit, emphasizing the importance of youth in the community. “Your children are going to be able to tell these stories,” Abunab-Elabed said, “You are instilling such a beautiful tradition into them. They are going to grow up and be even stronger, and then their children will be even stronger.”
The crowd stood silently with their candles for several minutes, before beginning chants of “free, free Palestine!” and “end the occupation!”, led by Salamey’s young daughter.
As the vigil wrapped up with closing words from Salamey and Abunab-Elabed, as organizers arranged small candles reading “Palestine” on the ground where the group of children had stood before. These candles were lit as the event wrapped up and continued to burn while attendees slowly dispersed.
Summer Managing Photo Editor Becca Mahon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.