Hundreds Protest I.C.E. and Call on Them to Stop Racist Practices
Chicago - On 21 May 2012, the last day of protest action during the NATO summit, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Office (I.C.E.) to send I.C.E. a message: stop the construction of an immigration detention center in Crete, Illinois!
Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s office had planned to facilitate a public town hall meeting on Monday to hear the concerns of Illinois constituents opposed to the building of a prison for undocumented people in Crete, Illinois. A Press Release from Representative Jackson Jr.’s office states that the public meeting was postponed due to “security concerns raised by NATO and outside protesters who are threatening to come to Crete.”
Moratorium for Deportations a Chicago-based group created to initiate dialogue, share information and coordinate efforts to get from President Obama an Executive Order for a Moratorium on Deportation, was one of a few organizations planning to attend the public town hall meeting. Rozalinda Borcila, a member of the group, says, “Representative Jackson and I.C.E. officials have stated this meeting represents their intentions to listen to people’s concerns and to hear public input. However, we don’t recognize the legitimacy of these claims, and I don’t think that this meeting would have represented an open public-dialogue about the issue of detention. So, we announced our intentions to participate in the meeting in the spirit of dissent and we are surprised by the postponement of the meeting, and we feel that Representative Jackson’s statement equate dissent with security threats.”
In their Open Letter to Congressman Jackson Jr., Moratorium for Deportations states that calling them “a security threat incites police violence against [the group].” They further comment:
“We consider the Congressman personally responsible for any form of repression or police attack we may encounter as we exercise our right to assemble [...],” and remind Representative Jackson Jr., that “he endorsed the NATO protests and his father participated in them, as is expected of politicians claiming to be “progressive Democrats”. We demand that he either retract his unfounded, alarmist and misleading statements about anti-NATO and pro-immigrant advocates, or add himself to the list of parties his office considers a security concern.”
The group remained resolute on convening and conveying their concerns to I.C.E. and organized yesterday’s Shut Down I.C.E. actions, which started at Union Park around 3:30 p.m. There, they engaged a crowd of about forty people by informing them of the group’s mission before walking from Union Park to the I.C.E. headquarters office, located at Clark and Congress Parkway. In a show of unexpected solidarity, Occupy Chicago and Nato protesters who had heard of the action merged with Moratorium for Deportations at Clark street around 5 p.m., thereby increasing the presence of those present.
Protesters shut down rush-hour traffic in the surrounding area as the demonstration moved about several busy intersections. Hundreds of police officers stood at parallel sides of the streets to cap off the number of people entering the march. Eventually protesters circled back to I.C.E.’s headquarters where Moratorium for Deportations again held a mic check with protesters about I.C.E.’s failure to hear the voices of those opposed to the erection of a prison. In the videos that follow below, you hear Rozalinda Borcila addressing hundreds as to why I.C.E.’s agenda should be of concern to people, followed by Megan Selby, who calls on I.C.E. to end to their racist practices:
In this short clip, protesters shout, “Shut down I.C.E.!”
After a peaceful sit-down in which protesters listened and echoed the words of the speakers, protesters got-up and continued the movement down East on Congress Parkway, then North on Michigan Avenue where another public dialogue was held.
There were numerous grassroots, local and national media outlets interviewing several organizational members and protesters after the march and dialogue that ended around 6 p.m.
This morning, Ms. Borcila received an email from Rick Bryant, the Congressman's Chief of Staff, that simply read: “Wow. Power to misinformtation!!”
For a larger gallery of photos from Monday's actions see here...