Inspired by the #OccupyICEPDX direct action in Portland, hundreds of workers and students, beginning June 22 rallied outside the federal detention center in Downtown Los Angeles, where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are based, to demand “ICE out of L.A.!
The rally began at 3 pm, as organizers from a coalition that included Ground Game LA, ICE Out Of LA Coalition, American Indian Movement, March and Rally LA, Democratic Socialists of America Los Angeles and National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles were supported by organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the ANSWER Coalition, who have been active in the Portland encampment as well.
There was broad community support for the actions, and the passion and enthusiasm of the gathered crowds was palpable as the people chanted radical slogans such as, “From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!” and “Money for jobs and education, not for ICE and deportation!”
By the evening, the rally had turned into an ongoing encampment, with a tent city being used to barricade an entrance to the detention center. Those present attempted to block vehicles from entering the building through another entrance late into the night and were met with resistance from more than a dozen armed police officers.
A local community member was nearly cited by an officer, but the strength and agitation of the assembled masses, including chants of “Let him go!”, as well as the presence of National Lawyers’ Guild legal observers, prevented the cops from successfully arresting a single person.
At one point, an official from the detention center, attempting to undermine the enthusiasm of the crowd, yelled that people should get out of the streets and call their elected representatives. Activists from the PSL led the crowd in rejecting this deflection and responded by discussing counter-arguments: that these racist policies are standard for the U.S. Empire throughout its history and current stage of development, that both the Republican and Democratic parties are responsible for building and maintaining them, and that the immigrant families being sent to concentration camps rife with abuse and traumatic violence are suffering now and cannot wait for the results of a future election cycle to help them.
The occupying crowd understood that the plea to “call our representatives” was an attempt to weaken our solidarity through bourgeois avenues of respectability and individual rather than collective change, and that true justice for immigrant families would only come about with a radical reordering of society to meet people’s needs instead of corporate profit.
As of June 25th, the occupation is still ongoing. The organizers have pledged not to dismantle their encampment until ICE, the present-day American gestapo, is driven from Los Angeles, and eventually from everywhere else.
Abolish ICE! End the concentration camps! Free and reunite immigrant families! Full rights for all immigrants now!