St. Paul, MN – For over three hours, hundreds of ‘Never Again’ protesters blockaded traffic around Minnesota’s Federal Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE) building on Tuesday, July 30. The protest called for the closing of ICE border detention centers, which protesters deem as concentration camps. 27 people were cited for unlawful assembly in an orchestrated arrest starting at 7 p.m., when their permit expired.
Unicorn Riot was live for the duration of the action.
Led by Twin Cities Jewish and Immigrant community members, several street blockades of humans and cars were deployed to block traffic on the streets. Meanwhile others rallied at the main entrance to the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal building in St. Paul, Minnesota.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 30, 2019
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.
One man yelled “Trump baby. Trump all the way! Build the fucking wall” from his large truck. He had positioned his truck just feet from the blockade and continually blared his horn. He stayed in direct confrontation with the protesters 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.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 30, 2019
At the start of the rally at the Whipple building entrance, Twin Cities music artist Mixie DBest spoke via telephone with her husband, who is locked up in ICE detention.
Her husband and the father of her three children, John Bing III, is the artist named Sota Smoov. He came to the United States when he was three after his family fled the civil war in Liberia.
“This is not about protecting people. They’re splitting apart families. This is spiritual and physical warfare. They want Brown and Black people to be separated and they want the white supremacists to win.” – Mixie DBest
Sota has been locked up in Sherburne County Jail since June 6, 2019. ICE pays Sherburne County $100 each day per inmate. Sherburne reserves up to 300 beds a day for immigration detainees and wants more beds. If all the beds were occupied the county would be receiving over $30,000 per day from ICE.
Mixie told us that in regards to the “jail renting out to ICE,” it’s a “business” to the government and part of a deep-set game of divide and control.
Kikuchi said that overall she would like to see the “ending [of] mass incarceration in all of its forms.” It’s “very personal,” Kikuchi said; “‘never again’ means never again for anyone.”
“There’s concentration camps on the border right now … there’s kids in those camps in those cages and we wanna get them out. That’s why we’re here.” – Susan Kikuchi
The ‘Never Again‘ movement gaining steam this summer is organized by young Jewish people who have been activated by the separation of families and the detention centers at the border. They say they were taught the story of the Holocaust, and taught to ‘never again’ let that happen. Standing up in protest of ICE is a way for them to put those lessons into action.
“We can’t just stand by and watch as this happens. We know that genocide happens in stages … We’ve seen this before, and if we were to stand by we’d be bad Jews.” – Jewish ‘Never Again’ protester cited for unlawful assembly
At the ‘Stop Separating Families’ march one month prior, a descendant of refugees told Unicorn Riot it made sense that they would demand others’ right to sanctuary.
“I’m here because my great-grandparents came to this country fleeing from #pogroms & I feel like it would be an insult to their memory if I didn’t advocate for others to have the same rights.”
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 12, 2019
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 31, 2019
“We were here to disrupt business as usual. Whipple is a deportation court and we are showing up here until the detention camps at the border are closed, until all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have permanent protection and until ICE is defunded.” – ‘Never Again’ organizer
As the crisis at the border continues and the number of children locked up increases, it seems the 2018 movement to Occupy ICE has grown new wings with the Never Again actions led by the Jewish community. More ‘Never Again is Now’ actions are planned across the country.
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Unicorn Riot's Coverage of the Sanctuary Movement and Immigration:
- Ingrid Encalada Latorre Pardoned After 2+ Years Claiming Sanctuary (Dec. 28, 2019)
- The Price to Oversee ICE: 200+ Protesters March in Aurora Suburb Home to GEO Group ICE Warden (Sep. 30, 2019)
- Twin Cities Jewish Community Blockades ICE Building, 27 Cited (Aug. 2, 2019)
- Passions Run High at ‘Close the Concentration Camps’ Protest (July 22, 2019)
- Hundreds in CO Plan Rally to ‘Close the Concentration Camps’ (July 12, 2019)
- Thousands March in Minneapolis to Stop Separating Families (June 30, 2019)
- Jeanette Vizguerra’s U-Visa Denied While in Sanctuary Second Time (June 27, 2019)
- CO Community Gathers Outside GEO ICE Facility on Longest Day of Year (June 21, 2019)
- Occupy ICE Denver Camps Outside GEO ICE Detention Center (Oct. 29, 2018)
- #OccupyICE Movement Grows Momentum in Colorado (Aug. 6, 2018)
- ICE Occupation Emerges at Denver Field Office (July 30, 2018)
- Philadelphia Reduces Police Help To ICE; ‘Occupy ICE’ Camp Moves (July 30, 2018)
- Protesters Occupy Philadelphia ICE Office (July 2, 2018)
- Protests Target ICE Contractor General Dynamics (June 29, 2018)
- Ninth Annual CO Love Knows No Borders, No Walls Vigil (Feb. 5, 2018)
- November Vigil at GEO Group ICE Detention Center in CO (Nov. 6, 2017)
- Ingrid Encalada Latorre Returns to Sanctuary; Four Claim Sanctuary in CO (Oct. 27, 2017)
- Ingrid Encalada Latorre Leaves Sanctuary After Six Months; Granted Temporary Stay (May 27, 2017)
- Indonesian Undocumented Immigrant Detained at ICE Check-In (May 24, 2017)
- Jeanette Vizguerra, Among Others, Celebrate Victories Against ICE Deportation Attempts (May 17, 2017)
- Sanctuary Movement Leader, Arturo Hernandez Garcia, Detained by ICE While at Work (April 30, 2017)
- Jeanette Vizguerra Named One of Time’s 100 Most Influential People as She Remains in Sanctuary (April 22, 2017)
- Crisis: Borderlands (March 14, 2017)
- Arizona Anti-ICE Demo Meets Arrests and Chemical Agents (Feb. 17, 2017)
- Deportations Begin Under Trump’s Regime (Feb. 14, 2017)
- Love Knows No BAN No Walls Vigil at GEO ICE Detention Center (Feb. 8, 2017)
Unicorn Riot's Coverage of the Asylum Seekers at the US/Mexico border:
- Military and Militias Deploy to US/Mexico Border to Confront Caravan of Asylum Seekers (Nov. 8, 2018)
- Asylum Seekers from Caravans Gather Along U.S./Mexico Border (Nov. 23, 2018)
- Tear Gas at Border as Asylum Seekers Attempt to Cross (Nov. 26, 2018)
- Migrants Speak as Thousands Continue to Arrive (Nov. 28, 2018)
- Migrants Moved to New Center as Hunger Strike Continues (Dec. 3, 2018)
- Border Patrol Arrests Migrants Crossing U.S./Mexico Border Wall (Dec. 4, 2018)
- Hunger Strike Ends with March on U.S. Consulate (Dec 11,2018)
- Faith Leaders March on U.S. Border in Solidarity With Migrants (Dec 13,2018)