About 500 people stood at the Capitol building Saturday morning to show solidarity with refugees across the world and living in Idaho.
Josh Wiese, of Boise, coordinated the rally after following the events of the Syrian refugee crisis. He decided it was crucial to host the event after the Boise International Market burned down Sept. 5, he said.
He set it up as a Facebook event and more than 600 people signed up to attend for the purpose to take a viral photo of the group holding a sign that said “Refugees Welcome in Idaho.”
At the event Wiese encouraged supporters to send the photo out on social media and to lawmakers.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Continue to support the refugee community. There's so many beautiful people here and one of the best things you can do is just get to know them and befriend them. They're right here right now,” he said.
He also highlighted the challenges refugees and immigrants who worked at the Boise International Market are facing after the loss of their business space.
The BIM was the main source of income for many of the vendors, and the owners of the space are still unsure what’s in store for the market. But, the community did step in and raise money on a GoFundMe Page to help the vendors while they waited for insurance claims to come through. The fundraising efforts surpassed the initial goal of $50,000 by reaching $50,880 as of Saturday evening.
“The community has shown support so well. Some of the shop owners, I think, are here today and we want them to know we stand with them,” he said.
Some of the supporters at the event were refugees and said they hoped to dispel any stigma about people fleeing war-torn countries.
Nermina Kadric fled Bosnia when she was a young girl and said refugees just want to give back to societies that take them in.
“There’s been a lot of threats to refugees,” she said. “We should be given a chance to prove ourselves.”
Bekir Mustafic also was a Bosnian refugee.
“America’s a melting pot. It’s always been,” he said. “People have always been immigrating to the United States.”