In a great show of unity in action, more than a dozen groups from all over the San Francisco Bay Area joined together July 12 to protest at Palantir Technologies in Palo Alto for the company’s provision of software facilitating ICE raids, detentions and deportations. Documents released last month showed that the software was to be used in Operation Meg, the largest planned raid so far, targeting thousands of immigrants for arrest and deportation.
Liza with the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps — Bay Area was the main organizer of the action. In two weeks, she pulled many of her contacts into the effort to build the action, and at the action itself she was tactical leader, including for the direct action. Her statement at the rally emphasized that this is just the first step in the struggle and people need to stay involved.
The July 12 protest included a direct action to shut down Palantir as well as opening and closing rallies with militant speeches by representatives of the co-sponsoring organizations, joined together as the Coalition. These included Party for Socialism and Liberation, Anak Bayan, Serve the People, Silicon Valley De-Bug, Mijente, Bay Area Tech Workers Coalition, Green Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian Youth Movement, Movement for a People’s Party and Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. Members of the National Lawyers Guild donned their usual green hats signifying their role as legal observers.
The action featured a loud and spirited march through downtown Palo Alto, a city of well-off residents and home to Stanford University, not used such a noisy “disruption” during rush hour.
While city residents joined the protest, most of the hundreds of participants traveled from San Francisco, Oakland-Berkeley, San José, and other parts of the Bay Area. They were a diverse and predominantly youthful crowd, with young women of color standing out — firing up attendees with militant chants and agitational speeches.
Leading off the opening rally was a young Filipina immigrant, Ky, introduced by another young woman, Vas, who impressively MC’d most of both rallies.
Ky, whose presentation was repeatedly met with cheers, began by saying that she was with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She went on to thank everyone for coming in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, underlining how important it was for us “to come together to express solidarity with our communities, struggle together, and fight back against ICE with power not panic.” She then described the neo-colonial relationship that has existed between her home country and the U.S. for decades. She pointed out, “The U.S. is the cause of widespread poverty throughout the world, and then when people attempt to enter this country, the U.S. has the audacity to meet immigrants with even more devastation and de-humanization.”
In the course of both rallies, representatives of virtually all the Coalition partners had a chance to speak, imparting inspiration and valuable information but also lengthening the second rally considerably.
One Spanish-speaker at the rally holding her child spoke eloquently of her experience with ICE. She testified she had been held at the border and her child taken away for an entire month, placed with a family she didn’t even know. She described her child as extremely traumatized from the experience.
Liz Gonzales of Silicon Valley De-Bug made the interesting observation that she saw almost no police or police cars during the action in Palo Alto, completely unlike the East Side of San José, where she lives and sees cops everywhere. That area of San José is predominantly Latinx.
Several times in the course of the concluding rally, speakers appealed to participants to report ICE activity, and cards were passed out urging people to “call (408) 290-1144 if you see ICE on the street, if ICE knocks on your door, or if ICE detains a loved one.”
Considerable media showed up to cover the action, reflecting the importance this issue has garnered in the public’s awareness.
As the rally concluded, attendees still remaining quietly dispersed, happy with its success in building solidarity with the immigrant community but understanding that the struggle continues.