familiesbelongtogether

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Originally Posted on August 6, 2018

As the street sweepers cleared and the sun peaked out from the horizon line the morning of July 27, an intrepid crew of Occupants, numbering 15, rose from their tents and went to work shutting down the Detroit ICE Field office. Eschewing most physical barricades that enveloped the gates in June, this team did most of the work with just their bodies.

Prior to the blockade, two groups of two Occupants each faced a frightening encounter. At 1:30 AM, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty pickup barreled through the Larned/Mt. Elliott intersection on a bee-line for protesters biking away. It swerved at the last moment, snaked up Mt. Elliott to restablize, then ran a red light on a right turn from the middle lane on Lafayette. This exact pattern was later repeated at 3:30 AM towards two protesters on foot.

A little after 5 AM, several vehicles tried to enter the facility through the Jefferson gate. A line of people formed in front, shouts of "Shame!" drowning out their cries of frustration, already muted by their car windows. The cars were turned away, but pulled into an adjacent parking lot to stew over a thwarted attempt to continue the work of genocide. Two of the cars bounced between the Jefferson and Mt. Elliott gates, probing for an opening. They found none.

Portion of the Deadline Day encampment, 7/26. 

Not long after 7 AM, a DHS agent arrived in response to employee calls about not being able to come to work. Occupy ICE Detroit began picketing in front of the gates in a roving circle formation. The DHS Agent, who shall henceforth be referred to as Agent (Donald) Glover, began repeatedly shouting "This is America!" in response to the protest, and later "you got me trippin' on some bike locks at 7 in the morning" in reference to the reason why none of the gates could open. The authorities' plea to not block vehicles from entering the facility was summarily ignored. After a half hour of huffing and puffing with channel locks and sledgehammer, the bike lock was removed from Mt. Elliott gate, but the blockade remain intact. Meanwhile, disgruntled ICE employees looked on from their perch in the Walgreen's parking lot, kitty-corner to the facility. 

Agent Glover pulled around to go to work on the Jefferson gate bike lock. A chorus of "Shame" erupted as he emerged, but he clapped back with "Shame don't work no more". 

To prove his point, a woman unaffiliated with Occupy ICE pulled into the parking lot adjacent Jefferson gate. She opened the door to her car, clearly distraught, with tears streaming down her face. "I just spent 20 minutes looking for a police officer, please help me, someone broke into my house!" she pleaded, but her bid for assistance was ignored by Agent Glover. Several Occupants went over to console her and direct her to an entity that actually helps people.

After the bike lock was removed, DHS was largely uninterested in testing Jefferson gate, instead focusing their efforts on bullying those blockading Mt. Elliott's. In this video you can see threats and intimidation from DHS, who now have five SUVs on the scene, such as the psychological warfare tactics of flashing emergency lights and sirens to disorient the protesters. This tactic is also not allowed in numerous law enforcement agencies, since its using emergency equipment for non-emergency reasons. Repeated threats of arrest were issued, as the morning crept on through 9 AM. One DHS agent took to the time to lay flex cuff zipties one by one on the pavement for each protester. 

People who should be chained, according to DHS. From the 7/26 Deadline Day Rally. 

An ICE employee tried to enter the facility, despite most of their coworkers skulking at Walgreens. A DHS agent told them "you were told not to come in, please go home and wait for a call." So Occupy ICE Detroit officially canceled the early bird shift. Later, a Fedex employee arrived on scene, stated "Trying to deliver a package, but ain't no one in there! Oops, not supposed to say that," and promptly left.

However, the most damning incident occurred at the hands of a Centerra security employee, hired by DHS. This video shows the driver backing up a foot from where the protester is standing, then stepping on the gas to hit her. Fortunately, no severe injuries were sustained in the vehicular assault. 

While the blockade stretched into the 10 AM hour, and ICE's vultures dispersed from the Walgreens, important work was carried out by the Outreach team, as a crowd of ten+ families waited outside for an ICE check-in to see whether they would be deported. Occupants walked through the involuntary gathering, offering water, snacks, and chalk for the kids, while asking how they felt about the protests and whether it helped. Almost universally there was appreciation, with one exception. One man needed to drive from Grand Rapids for his check-in, an expensive journey, and didn't want to have to repeat it due to a shutdown. ICE is forcing people to drive across the entire state of Michigan just for the privilege of finding out whether or not they would be exiled. Occupy ICE Detroit will be launching an additional fundraiser to provide relief for immigrant communities directly in the near future, especially as it relates to the deportation process.

By 11 AM, the Mt. Elliott blockade was completely surrounded, with DHS agents outnumbering protesters. A final warning was issued and the blockade ended, but not before canceling the entire first shift and observing a deportation free day while protesters were on site. Occupants were given only a half hour to strike camp or face arrest/personal property destruction.

No arrests were made, and Occupy ICE Detroit stayed out front for the remainder of the day, to much jubilation from onlookers driving by on Jefferson.

Several days later, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty was seen exiting the ICE facility.

  #abolishice 

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My Uncle Roy was a terribly racist person as was much of my family growing up.  My first encounter with him was an altogether shocking experience as a 12 years old, even though I had been around blatantly racist family members before.  I can remember hearing him say the n word at a pace of every third to fourth word and finding myself somewhere between disgust and amazement that someone that I was related to could actually be that racist.  

My family often tried to convince me that he was a good person.  "He grew up that way" was the excuse for such blatantly racist diatribes.  I never accepted it or him.  You may love your family.  You may be kind to certain folks in your orbit,  But if you have hate in your heart, than being a good person is out of reach.  If so much of your ego is wrapped up in your white identity within a white supremacist worldview, than no, I don't believe you are a good person.  

Good people don't dehumanize others for any reason and certainly not for their race.  I think at this point most of us accept this maxim.  

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But of course it wasn't always that way.  Slaveholding gentry certainly had a high opinion of themselves and their place in the world.  Many of the founding fathers owned other human beings and we still accept the other qualities that made them great leaders.  Such leadership though didn't mean they were good people.  Owning another human being disqualifies you from that status, even within the historical context in which they lived.  In 1779, Jefferson wrote a plan to end slavery in Virginia and yet he held on to a couple hundred slaves until his dying day.  Washington made sure his slaves were freed upon the deaths of himself and his wife.  Franklin was one the earliest anti-slavery activists.  People generally know deep down when something is wrong, 

White Citizens Councils and the KKK who enforced Jim Crow had folks that fancied themselves to be good, upstanding people and community members.  But of course if you are engaging in blatantly discrimination, intimidation, and murder often in the form of lynching, than you are not a good person.  Deep down, you know better.  And if you don't, your ego must be be so  deeply embedded in your white identity that you have absolute blinders on to the humanity of African Americans.  Unlike Trump's comments about Charlottesville last summer, there aren't good people amongst the KKK and Neo-Nazis.

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After Trump's election, I vowed to engage white folks who voted for him to better understand what their concerns are and to build bridges to hopefully.  These last couple of weeks have been eye opening in this pursuit.  As I go back with conservative friends and trolls on social media, they have defended Trump's cruel and inhumane practice of ripping children from their parents through various forms of argumentation. 

Some want to deflect by blaming Clinton and Obama for forcing Trump's hand in his cruel practices. Never mind that Jeff Sessions and the President both said themselves that was a new practice and policy.   

Others wanted to blame the parents for coming here and breaking the law (the Jeff Sessions legal argument).  Never mind that seeking asylum is not a crime and you need not be at point of entry to claim asylum,   Never mind that the first entry into the US is a misdemeanor offense.

Others defended the intent of the policy and thereby demonstrated the very worst in racism and xenophobia. 

In all of these arguments, I made the case that if you are fighting to rip children from their parents than it is clear that you and I don't share the same values.  I slowly have come around to  the realization that some of these folks aren't good people simply put. Trump is both a manifestation and instigator of racists throughout the country. In these cases there's nothing more to say than say, "You aren't a good person.  Good people don't support policies intended to undermine and strip the humanity and dignity of other classes or groups.  I implore you to dig deeper."  I then take my leave.

Uncle Roy would have voted for Trump, if he voted at all.  He certainly wouldn't feel out of place any longer in Trump's America. Uncle Roy wasn't a good person.  The folks out here defending ripping children from parents for crossing a line in the dirt aren't good people either. 

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