February 21st, 2017 12:45 PM
Flying the flag: Oak Park and River Forest High School grad Sarah Sugimoto, 19, says she wants to send a message that discrimination is not welcome in Oak Park. | WILLIAM CAMARGO/Staff Photographer
Oak Parkers in the 600 block of Fair Oaks are sending a message to President Donald Trump that hate is not welcome in their neighborhood.
The statement has come in the form of roughly a dozen rainbow flags that line the block and yard signs saying "Hate has no home here" and "Immigrants welcome."
Sarah Sugimoto, a recent graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, said her mother, Sondra Summers, first came up with the idea, but Sugimoto took it a step further.
Sugimoto emailed neighbors on the block near the end of last year about the idea of putting up the flags and then ordered and distributed them to those interested on the block.
The flags had been in place for a few weeks when Sugimoto attended an immigrant rights rally in Scoville Park in early February that drew hundreds of supporters of Oak Park's then-proposed sanctuary city ordinance. She said that demonstration inspired her to collect the yard signs to add to the rainbow flags.
"They say 'Hate has no home here' because of the travel ban Trump put in place for the seven majority Muslim countries," Sugimoto said.
"This woman [at the rally] had these signs in a box, so I took a couple," Sugimoto said. "I sent a mass email to the block to see if people wanted to put them in the window."
Sugimoto ultimately had to go to Kinko's to get more signs made because of the response, she said.
She said the political statement has been noticed by neighbors on adjacent blocks, who also have requested signs and flags to put up in solidarity.
Neighbors Hans and Barbara Lagoni, who live next door to Sugimoto, said they were so inspired by the flags that they decided to make their own sign that simply reads "Immigrants welcome."
"We moved into this community in 1971, and it's always been a community about inclusion and welcoming and about diversity, and that's what we love about it," Barbara Lagoni said.
She said she's proud of what's happening on the block and wanted to stand for what's right.
"Given the current political climate, we are deeply concerned about the direction that Donald Trump is taking the country and taking the government," she said, adding that she's specifically concerned about appointments to Trump's cabinet and his positions concerning the environment, education, international relations – "you name it," she added.
"I think it's important that as a community we stand up to that; we can't be complacent," she said.
Barbara Lagoni noted that she comes from a family of journalists and has been particularly concerned with Trump's attacks on the media. The president has regularly referred to major media outlets as producers of "fake news" and most recently wrote on Twitter that several news organizations – CNN, The New York Times, NBC, ABC and CBS – are "the enemy of the American people."
"The attack on the media concerns me and the comparisons being made to pre-Nazi Germany concerns me," Barbara Lagoni said. "This has gone beyond partisan. It's not Democrat versus Republican anymore, it's really about our democratic society."