Press release issued by #OccupyICE Sacramento on the establishment of an encampment outside the ICE building.
Peoples across this city, the country, and the world are boiling with frustration, anger, and trauma. Millions watch in horror as policies initiated by the Obama administration are accelerated and expanded by the Trump administration in an attempt to break the bodies and spirits of would-be asylum seekers and refugees, and those who stand in solidarity, support, and defense of them. As politicians and media personalities wring their hands in mealy-mouthed protestation, communities across and between countries have erected encampments at ICE facilities to blockade and disrupt the detention and separation of families at the border and aid migrants in their journey across already-existing militarized walls sponsored and funded by three successive presidential administrations.
On Thursday, July 26th, Sacramento community members join these efforts to blockade the workings of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an institution that continues a long line of American policy dedicated to breaking bonds of solidarity by separating parent from child, neighbor from neighbor, and coworker from coworker. This city was built on the land of the Southern Maidu, Valley Miwok, and Nisenan people. The ICE building on the Sacramento Capitol Mall was constructed as part of the violent removal and subsequent gentrification of a neighborhood that once housed Black and Japanese peoples. This same building is used to maintain white supremacy in its most overt form, caging and separating immigrant families with all the administrative banality of a driver’s license processing facility.
There’s a restlessness in this city the last few years as racist screed and violence resurfaced in this country with a vengeance. Hundreds of people in Sacramento successfully prevented neo-Nazis from claiming any real or symbolic victory to host a demonstration intended to intimidate people as Trump’s campaign garnered support in June 2016. After his election, even more turned out to his removal from office and voice their frustrations with a system hell-bent on re-enacting the fascistic turn of the early 20th century. In the wake of Sacramento police department’s murder of Stephon Clark, over a thousand people turned out to shut down the crowning jewel of Sacramento’s gentrifying redevelopment, the Golden 1 Center, to demand justice for his death and an end to police brutality. Rolling protests engulfed neighborhoods inhabited by peoples traumatized by the daily violence of policing. Just over 50 years ago the Black Panther Party showed up in Sacramento to disrupt the Assembly Chambers, protesting a law that would effectively prevent people of color from self defense. We see the reverberations of those moments now. And as the U.S. Justice Department argued their case for ending California’s tepid sanctuary state law (which, though it proclaims prohibiting local police agencies from working with ICE, numerous documented cases of inter-departmental coordination across the state demonstrate the contrary), community members protested ICE’s inhumane child kidnapping policy outside of the courtroom proceedings.
At every turn we have encountered attempted repression and stifling of community rage: by the Federal Bureau of Intelligence, Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento Sheriff’s office, the California Highway Patrol, the Sacramento City Council, and their vigilante hangers-on who gleefully cheer dehumanization and death – all with the veil of legality. And yet despite it all, many Sacramento community members continue to directly confront and oppose these institutions and open our hearts, minds, and communities to refuge-seeking migrants. To this point, Sacramento residents organized celebrations to welcome refugees as they touched down into the city at the height of Trump’s first Muslim ban attempt.
We continue this work with the establishment of this encampment today. But action does not begin and end with this encampment. Community members can take defensive steps to support their immigrant and non-immigrant neighbors, friends, and coworkers, including talking to each other about their social needs and worries; standing up to bosses who would try to steal wages by intimidating workers without documentation; organizing neighborhood meetings to build committees dedicated to preventing ICE from entering homes and communities; boycotting real estate agencies that buy houses from people of color and poor folks only to sell at astronomical profits, further gentrifying the city; call-in campaigns to ICE officials demanding prosecutorial discretion be exercised to free immigrants as they await their cases; connecting people with legal resources to support their cases and showing up to court hearings for support; and many other ways to collectively intervene in these oppressive systems.
While child cages have largely receded from the media’s focus, over 2,500 children still remain separated from their parents and recent reports indicate this could continue for years. And in that interim these systems will be reproduced unless we consciously tear out the roots of this suffering: that of racism, white supremacy, and a capitalist society that feeds off an underclass disproportionately populated by racialized peoples. Anything less than, will never be enough. It does nothing to “reform” ICE or the police. We must END them. We come together to not only demand the reuniting of children with their parents and the abolition of ICE and of all cages but to actively take steps to dismantle them and the systems they serve. We join with thousands of others who recognize state-sanctioned atrocities and abrogations of justice, with those who put their lives and livelihoods on the line to denounce the dehumanization of poor and working class immigrants, while elites and the products they sell are allowed to travel freely. We demand that immigrants be allowed to fight their legal cases outside of detention. We demand an immediate moratorium on all deportations. We reject all walls, all cages, and all borders.
Another world is possible; we only have to build it.
#OccupyICESacto #AbolishICE #EndDeportations