More than 300 people gathered on Saturday, August 29, to protest against ICE and homeland security at the ICE data center in Williston, Vermont. Receiving calls from across the country reporting undocumented people, the building — officially referred to as the Law Enforcement Support Center — operates 24 hours a day all year long. ICE’s accomplices are the police: local departments call into this center to get assistance in obtaining data and training to apprehend and criminalize undocumented immigrants.
The Black Perspective, Migrant Justice, Rights for Democracy, Community Voices for Immigrant Rights and the Peace and Justice center were among the many groups that spoke at or organized the protest. The speakers called to abolish ICE and its racist practices, and were clear that reform would not suffice. Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Vermont were in attendance.
On the event page the organizers condemn “…agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as well as the paramilitary SWAT team, Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). They usually harass, arrest, incarcerate, and deport immigrants, most of whom are fleeing conditions caused by US political, economic, and military intervention in their countries.” The organizers also called for the police to be abolished, and spoke of the horrific nature of Trump deploying of federal troops on people peacefully protesting for racial justice all over the country.
Many of the organizers of this event are also involved with the ongoing occupation of Battery Park in Burlington, Vermont. Protesters have been occupying the park which is directly next to the Burlington Police Department since August 26, and maintain that they will not leave until three officers with a history of excessive force, Cory Campbell, Jason Bellavance and Joseph Corrow, are fired.