Jewish Groups Are Taking Action From Coast To Coast To Close The Camps

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Above photo: Hundreds of protesters took over the streets near Minnesota’s Federal ICE building

Jewish Communities are holding “Close The Camps” actions across the country to protest the detention of migrants in the United States, the current immigration policies and mistreatment of migrants seeking asylum.

On July 30, Never Again movement activists blockaded the Minnesota Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in St. Paul for over three hours. Twenty seven were arrested.

Unicorn Riot had this report:

Young Jewish protesters began the blockades by holding hands and walking to the exits surrounding the Whipple building. The exits also include Metro Transit Park & Ride parking lots. At the east and the west side entrances to the building, two cars reinforced the human chains.

At this time commuters were arriving from the Light Rail to get to their cars in the Park & Ride lots, and others were leaving work from the Whipple building and other nearby buildings. The handful of blockades held their ground for the duration of Tuesday’s rush hour traffic.

Near the Fort Snelling Light Rail station there was several reports incidents of cars plowing through the protesters. The atmosphere stayed semi-tense with a standoff at the blockade that lasted for hours.

At the main entrance to the Whipple building the street blockade consisted of a human chain and two cars. Protesters were accompanied by the marching band collective Unlawful Assembly.

Jewish prayers, songs, and chants of solidarity with immigrants alongside demands to close the camps emanated continuously from the participants of the handful of human chains and their accomplices on the sidewalks and in the streets.

Read more and see photos here.

Activists march in Portland Maine.

On August 2, Jewish Activists marched and rallied in Portland Maine. The Beacon reports:

The group, which was primarily comprised of Jewish Mainers, marched along Congress Street from Longfellow to Monument Square, where they shared challah bread and grape juice in celebration of Shabbat.

The march is part of national campaign of Jewish-led direct actions under the banner “Never Again is Now” that draws parallels between the discrimination and rejection Jewish people in America faced during the Holocaust and the current treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. It followed another Portland march last month.

“We know what happens when a government targets, dehumanizes and strips an entire group of people of their civil and human rights,” Wartell explained. “Jews around the country have been mobilizing to stop the camps. It’s time for Maine’s Jewish community to raise our collective voice and say that Never Again means never again for anyone.”

Action in Los Angeles, from Never Again Action on Twitter.

On August 5, Jewish activists protested at the GEO Group office in Los Angeles. The GEO Group is one of the private corporations that profits by running migrant detention centers. Lauren Steiner described the event and made the YouTube video,  over 100 activists protested outside and inside the Los Angeles office of Geo Group, a private prison company operating seven immigrant detention facilities. I was given exclusive access to come inside and document the arrests and interview those arrested about why they decided to do this.

Common Dreams reported:

In a Facebook event description for Monday’s demonstration, the protest organizers detailed what motivated their protest:

Children are being separated from their families at the border and imprisoned in concentration camps. ICE raids are increasing in frequency and severity, instilling fear and terror into immigrant communities. People are dying at the border as they flee for their safety. Cherished members of our local community are being rounded up outside of their homes, in their cars, at their workplaces. We refuse to wait and see—we know from history what happens next.

Organizers also highlighted the GEO Group’s contracts with ICE, pointing out that the Adelanto Detention Facility—which the corporation runs for the U.S. government—is located just outside of Los Angeles. “We can’t ignore it,” said organizers. “As a country, as a community, we have to stand up and declare that we will not allow this to happen any longer.”

“That’s why we’re showing up on GEO Group’s doorstep. Because people are suffering and dying, and the owners of GEO Group don’t care as long as their bottom line is safe. Because it’s clear that our leaders and officials won’t stop it,” organizers added. “Join us to tell GEO Group that never again means never again, and that the public demands they CLOSE THE CAMPS.”

The group livestreamed the action from both inside and outside the GEO Group’s L.A. office:

According to reports from the scene, protesters chanted “close the camps” as police began making arrests a few hours after the demonstration began. Never Again Action tweeted Monday afternoon that after shutting down the building for about five hours, the last group of demonstrators from the lobby had been arrested and removed by police.

Read the full report and find more photos and videos here.

More protests are planned in the next few weeks in other cities across the country. Visit NeverAgainAction.com for more information and to get involved.