BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington resident Brenda Wernick came to the Not In Our Town rally Wednesday to show support for immigrant neighbors and the Twin Cities' diversity.
She also carried away 10 "Welcome Neighbor" signs.
The yard signs come with the message, “No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor," printed in Spanish, English and Arabic.
"We have friends and neighbors who have expressed interest in getting them so I came here to pick the signs up for them," she said.
"I think it's important to send a message in the community that we are a welcoming community … and as Americans we do not support these hateful messages that are being communicated to the world," said Wernick.
"We had a lot of people (Wednesday) night picking up signs already ordered and then a lot more people asking how they could order online and taking the ordering instructions with them," said Mary Aplington, a NIOT member who is helping Pamala Eaton distribute the yard signs.
Eaton, a Dimmitt's Grove resident, introduced the signs after she brought back two from Harrisonburg, Va.; the Dimmitt's Grove Neighborhood Association sponsored the printing and sales of the initial 400 signs.
To obtain a $10 sign, online ordering forms can be completed at: https://goo.gl/forms/R4CP2t1D8ABD0ehf2.
"This is amazing how two signs coming from Virginia can all of a sudden turn into 700-plus signs with maybe a thousand by the end of the month," Eaton told nearly 1,200 people who filled the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts to capacity during the rally.
By Thursday, the number of signs ordered had increased by 100 to a total of more than 800, she said.
The signs convey what the 26-block historic neighborhood near downtown Bloomington is about, said Brad Williams, Dimmitt's Grove Neighborhood Association president.
"We have always been very accepting of diversity," said Williams. "The Dimmitt's Grove Neighborhood Association has always considered its neighborhood to be the most diverse place in the city. We've always celebrated that."
He and Eaton said the signs were never meant to be a political statement.
"We have over 500 households in our neighborhood … and not everybody who lives here is part of the protest against the U.S. president," said Williams. "I don't want to get into a political battle, which is very complicated. I want to keep the message very simple and positive."
Dimmitt's Grove Neighborhood Association, NIOT and YWCA McLean County have partnered to provide the yard signs.
Eaton is encouraging people to order the signs in bulk — through neighborhood, church or other community group — to simplify delivery. Proceeds, after printing costs, are being divided among Western Avenue Community Center, Dimmitt's Grove Neighborhood Association and NIOT.