On June 30, the streets of downtown Los Angeles witnessed a mass mobilization of more than 70,000 people rallying against the inhumane detainment and separation of immigrant families at the border. Immigrant workers, students, labor organizers, and allied activist groups from a plethora of social movements active in Los Angeles came out in solidarity with a nation-wide wave of rallies taking place that day, under a united call to put an end to the mass incarceration and criminalization of immigrant families.
Despite Trump’s Executive Order putting a halt to the separation of detained immigrant children from their families, the massive turnout demonstrated a continuing outrage against the relentless attacks on immigrant rights that refuses to be silenced or co-opted by cosmetic changes to the current administration’s racist and cruel agenda.
Representing the greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the sponsoring organizations of the march, Imam Omar Suleiman spoke on Islamophobia and the violence that has been waged against Muslim communities around the world to justify imperialist lies and plunder. Suleiman talked briefly about the Muslim Ban in 2017 in its relationship to the government’s so-called “zero tolerance” policy of this year, denouncing the agenda that wields the same tools and tactics of dehumanization against refugees and immigrants from all parts of the world in its search for profits and unchecked domination.
Speaking out against the summit hosted by Trump and Congress to commemorate “victims of illegal aliens,” Suleiman asked “when will we have a summit for Anton Rose and Jordan Edwards, teenagers, whose lives were taken by uniformed officers?” Connecting the issues of anti-immigrant white nationalism, police brutality, and U.S. imperialism, Suleiman added, “What about the 150 Syrian children who were bombed while studying in school last year by our government?”
Breaking apart establishment narratives that fail to take into account the displacement and separation of families through imperialist wars and mass incarceration, the Imam spoke on the violence of family separation “with drones, with bullets, with slaveholding prison systems and detention centers,” raising the importance of unity between all those victimized by capitalism and imperialism, as well as situating the issue of forced separation at the heart (rather than the recent margins) of historical and contemporary U.S. policy. In contrast to politicians like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who called for I.C.E. to merely “do its job” and called for massive mobilizations to vote Democrat in the midterms, this speech exposed such violent policies as continuous realities running through both Republican and Democratic iterations of the USA’s oppressive and undemocratic history.
Marching from Los Angeles City Hall to the Metropolitan Detention Center, protestors chanted in unity, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!” and “El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” At our destination, two children of immigrant families took over the mic to lead the demonstrators with songs and chants. The crowd gathered around to sing, “We are the people, the mighty mighty people! Fighting for justice, and for housing!”
Just as capitalism never ceases to exploit vulnerable immigrant communities displaced by its wars and systematic underdevelopment of the global south, the fight to achieve full rights for all immigrants will not be stopped, neither by the concessions nor lies of the powerful. All power to the people!