On Halloween hundreds of youth marched to the Homaland Security Building to protest the recent ICE Raids targeting undocumented immigrants. This is a Press Release written by Sagnicthe Salazar addressing why the youth felt they had to do this action.
WHY YOUTH SHUT DOWN THE ICE BUILDING FOR ONE DAY
On October 31st, 2008 a week before the elections with all eyes focused on the presidential race, hundreds of youth, families, community members, and organizers from over ten different cities in the Bay Area mobilized themselves to gather at the Immigration Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) building to demand:
• End to all I.C.E. Raids now!
• Shut down all detention centers
• REAL Sanctuary Cities
The day began full of young people walking out of their high schools and heading to their local BART stations to get to Ferry Park in San Francisco, where people began preparing their faces and their signs for the funeral procession march to the I.C.E. building. Each person dressed in black and with their face painted as skulls representing the many people who have died during their journey to the United States, as well as those who are victim to the attacks on immigrants both here in our local cities, as well as at the border. Many carried signs with the same message that many saw hanging of Treasure Island as they drove into San Francisco which read, “If Capital Can Cross Borders, So Can We!” At Ferry Park the crowd formed a huge circle and held a program with Northern Native Drummers, speakers from the Filipino Community, performers highlighting the connection between the oppression faced within different communities of color – all this, to prepare for an amazingly powerful day where community disrupted business as usual at the I.C.E. building and blockaded the doors to prevent I.C.E. from disrupting and ruining the lives of hardworking people, families, innocent children and entire communities.
In all, there were probably about one thousand people at the protest in San Francisco, although there would have been many more if the BART Stations in different cities did not decide to prevent more than 300 young people from exercising their right to free speech by shutting down four BART Stations and even brutalizing and arresting students. At Richmond BART Station three young people where indiscriminately picked out of the crowd and arrested, and one of the three young people was brutalized by the cops to the point where he was sent to the hospital.
In Oakland, Fruitvale and Lake Merritt BART Stations were shut down before the young people even arrived to the BART Station. BART agents disclosed that the orders to shut down BART were given to them from their higher up officials after their immediate supervisors had told them to just let young folks go on and get to their destination peacefully. The young people were not the only victims to this abuse of power; at the Fruitvale station, an Oakland Tribune photographer was detained by the cops and had their footage confiscated. Contrary to the message distributed by mainstream media, throughout this entire day full of events, young people were disciplined, organized, and peaceful.
Even after all obstacles that were used to prevent youth from attending this action, some Richmond youth still made it out to the Ferry Park in time to participate in powerful. Some of the Oakland youth caught up to the protest at the I.C.E. building where 11 young people chained themselves to barrels at the driveways of the building, preventing I.C.E. vans from exiting or entering the premise. For at least one day the community prevented these trucks from entering our community, breaking into our homes and terrorizing our people. On each side, mixed crowds of young and old, Black and White, Asian, and Raza, and many more gathered in solidarity around the blockaders as they chanted, spoke, sang and performed in the rain managing to shut down the I.C.E. building for the day. The community left the clear message that immigrant communities are very powerful and that they are no longer willing to allow I.C.E. agents, police agents, city officials, or any laws to intimidate them and to violate their right to live in peace.
OUR COMMUNITIES WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED INTO SILENCE!
Even on Halloween day, young people were willing to put all their plans on hold and dedicate their time and energy to resist the attacks on immigrant communities because these attacks are the reality that immigrant communities live every day. One of the goals of the day was to make sure that, in the midst of elections – when no politician is talking about the atrocities that are being committed against innocent people – that this issue be brought to light. Because no politician is willing to talk about the racist police check points targeting immigrant community, or the illegal raids at all hours of the day and night with no warrant and no due process followed, or about difficulties of trying to live in this country with out a way to attain legal documentation, the young folks took the streets that day to talk about what no politician is willing to talk about.
Just last Wednesday, 20 families in San Francisco had their homes broken into during a raid at four in the morning by I.C.E. agents who violently arrested people in the homes as they broke windows, doors and even shot tear gas projectiles into the house while children laid asleep in bed. Two weeks before that, in Oakland –a so called sanctuary city—a 15 year old girl spoke about her fear of going to school after experiencing an I.C.E. raid on the AC transit bus at 8am on her way to school that week. She escaped the raid by quickly hopping out of the emergency exit on the bus after seeing I.C.E. agents stop the bus and racially profiling their targets as they harassed anyone that looked Latino. As she fled the scene she saw people stepping out of the bus and being asked to stand in a line against the wall, while agents went down the line interrogating people about their legal status. She saw the agents take people who were not able to show documentation in another bus. Now she says she doesn’t feel safe going to school, being in the streets or even being at home. It is because of countless stories like this that young people at the protest on Friday were there to say that “Enough is enough”.
As November 4th passes by, this issue should not be forgotten. Whether Obama or McCain come into office, there is no guarantee that the raids will stop. No matter who comes into office there is still a huge border wall being built between U.S. and Mexico costing taxpayers millions of dollars. There are still multi-billion dollar corporations being allowed to take their business freely across the border which not only means less jobs in the U.S., but also means that these corporations are replacing small local businesses across the border and forcing families to either work as cheap labor in these corporation or to cross the border in search for better jobs in order to survive.
No matter who gets elected tonight, we need change, and not just in word, we need actions. We need to end free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that make immigration a forced migration, we need a clear process towards legalization of undocumented immigrants, we need an immediate end to the ICE raids, and we need police that “protect and serve” rather than collaborating with ICE in their acts of domestic terrorism, most importantly, we need people to be treated as human beings. Until that happens young people and communities they belong to will continue to take the streets, to shut down agencies that play a role in terrorizing our communities and taking any measures necessary to get what we need!