Still healing the wounds - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Crystal Oko

Still healing the wounds

ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC-DT) -- One year ago today is a time that will be ingrained in the minds of Postville residents for a long time.

Memories that are still very raw and painful for some.

What I saw was women wearing GPS ankle bracelets, a lot of red ribbons to show the solidarity of those trying to make it through these tough times in Postville.

And for one man, those memories of a year ago are still as clear as day.

They're memories of a nightmare that became a reality one year ago today.

May 12th, 2008. A day in Postville that changed everything.

"In some ways, definitely the town has changed for the worst. It has been difficult for the poor people who have lost their jobs, lost their idenities, lost their families, lost their faith home. But in a lot of ways it has pulled people closer together," said Mary Koopman, a member of the parish council for St. Bridget's Church in Postville.

Families were torn apart when I.C.E. official detained 389 workers of the nation's largest Kosher meat packing plant, Agriprocessors.

One year later, the town is still picking up the pieces.

A prayer and rememberance ceremony hoped to heal some of those wounds.

One Hispanic woman said at the ceremony, "I knew I had to endure whatever I could to provide medicine and food for my precious 2-year-old son."

While a solidarity march brought to light the overlying theme of the day, immigration reform.

"I'm here because immigration enforcement that our country, our government has taken over the last couple years needs to stop. It leaves communities like Postville and Marshalltown completely devastated," said one marcher.

A native of Guatemala, Elver Herrera, worked at Agriprocessors until 2004 illegally.

"The last call. He called me inside the plant and said Elver take care of my kids because...," said Herrera, fighting back tears.

He remembers that day a year ago with deep sadness and says what Postville needs is hope and time.

Elver got married to a woman that he worked with at the bakery in Postville, where he worked after he left Agriprocessors and had been working since the bakery closed.

He now has a job in Austin.

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