On Monday night, Latino Rebels received the following media release:
LOS ANGELES — On Friday, June 22, 2018, dozens of protesters came together in front of the Metropolitan Detention Center complex (300 N Los Angeles St) to rally against the actions of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). What started off as a rally and vigil for the victims of ICE’s violence has now become a full-blown occupation, with about a dozen activists spending the night on the street in front of the detention center’s driveway. The group contains many experienced organizers but the people who have put together the action emphasize that they are here as community members who are currently communicating with the broader Los Angeles region under the name LA against ICE.
The rally on Friday drew about 100 people over the course of the night. Speakers included members from ICE out of LA, Ground Game LA, #SheDoes, and Undocumedia. Protesters shouted, “Shame on you!” at ICE employees leaving for the day and momentarily blocked the entrance of a van transporting detainees into the building. The police presence was often times disproportionate to the protest itself, but no arrests were made. The current occupation expects to go through the weekend, and resources permitting, for as long as it takes to shut down the facility.
Although the inhumanity of family separation has been a galvanizing moment of historical importance, the protesters at Alameda and Aliso want more than simply an end to this policy. “Our demands here are for this detention center to be closed and for ICE as a whole to be abolished. Caging families together is also inhumane,” one organizer said. ICE has only been in existence for 15 years, and “abolish ICE” has now become a rallying cry for progressives across the country, echoed by Democratic hopefuls like Cynthia Nixon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
While a recording of children crying and screaming has haunted many listeners since it was made available by ProPublica, activists with LA against ICE want to be sure that their community knows that the abuse of ICE and DHS does not begin or end with family separation. According to The Intercept, there have been over 1,200 complaints about sexual abuse against all genders in detainment facilities. The publication rightfully calls this number “staggering” and adds that ICE has also asked that the records of these complaints be destroyed in the national archive. The epidemic of abuse against detainees and the horribly transparent lack of accountability are more reasons LA against ICE urges all Angelenos to demand that ICE stop operating in LA and that ICE is abolished.
In response to critics who invoke the legality of many of ICE’s actions, LA against ICE organizers point to the history of legal atrocities, such as slavery in the US, Japanese internment camps, “boarding schools” for Native American children and the Chinese Exclusion Act as part of a history of US law being immoral and sometimes genocidal. “We feel that the policy of family separation is not a deviation of the immorality of the legal system here, but a confirmation of it. In response to ‘this is not who we are,’ we must rejoin ‘sadly this is who we are, but it doesn’t have to be.’ The number of people coming out in large numbers across the country, particularly in Portland and New York as part of Occupy ICE actions is really great to see,” says an organizer with LA against Ice.
The community members also emphasize that they want to bring attention to other issues that are deeply intertwined with the current crisis around immigration justice. Many people in the U.S. are currently confronting the horrible actions of the U.S. government against immigrants, but the truth is that separating families through mass incarceration is just as inhumane. Radical work around immigration must be connected to the reform and abolition of prisons and the ending of what is evidently a police state.
Moreover, LA against ICE hopes that people in the U.S. who have been driven to action by the current administration will look to the history of immigration enforcement in the U.S. We recognize that while Trump’s actions have exacerbated the abuse of detained and/or undocumented immigrants, the history of brutal immigration enforcement starts with the Clinton Administration and ICE itself is created in the Bush years and strengthened through the Obama presidency. The abuse of immigrants is a bipartisan project. Finally, an organizer says, “The way U.S. foreign policy has spawned immigration by destabilizing countries like Honduras and Guatemala, and then treats immigrants as criminals upon entry is part of a white supremacist imperialist project, one that the U.S. has been upholding since its inception.”
LA against ICE asks all Los Angeles County community members to come out to say no to ICE. Everyone who can shout “Abolish ICE” with passion are welcome to come out to camp. The occupation was joined by the Los Angeles TPS Committee and the National TPS Alliance to host a cultural night on the evening of June 23, 2018, with food and music, at 7pm. They also hosted a vigil simultaneously with PICO California and LA Voice. On Sunday, June 24, at 1pm, an interfaith group of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religious groups held a public interfaith service for all families separated by incarceration, detention and deportation. More events will be happening each day at the encampment. Please follow @LAagainstICE on Twitter for more updates.
Press contact: LAagainstIce@outlook.com
Address of encampment: Metropolitan Detention Center Complex, around 535 Alameda Street, and on Aliso Street between Alameda St and North Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012