How Immigration Activists Got ICE Out of a County Jail

Photoessay By David Bacon
Capital and Main, 9/12/18

View Entire Photo Essay

RICHMOND, CA – 14JULY18 – People of faith and immigrants call for family members to be released from the West County Detention Center, where immigrants have incarcerated before being deported. The Contra Costa Sheriff announced he was canceling the contract with Federal authorities under which the jail has housed immigration detainees. Protestors are calling for the detainees to be released to their families, and fear that instead they will be transferred to facilites far away where they will no longer be able to visit them.

ICE has facilities in hundreds of county jails around the U.S., building a dependency among counties on money paid for housing detainees.

Bay Area immigrant communities and immigrant rights activists felt they’d won an important victory July 10. At a news conference, Sheriff David Livingston, flanked by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, announced that his department was ending its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigration detainees in Richmond at the West County Detention Facility, one of the county’s four jails.

Immediately, the organizations that had put pressure for years on the county over its cooperation with ICE demanded the release of the detainees, urging authorities not to transfer them to another location. For the next two months, until the immigrant facility inside the jail was closed, detainees’ families and their supporters mobilized to get legal help, and raise the bond money needed to bail people out of detention. In the end, they raised tens of thousands of dollars, and freed 21 of about 175 detainees held inside the center. The rest were transferred.

RICHMOND, CA – 14JULY18 – People of faith and immigrants call for family members to be released from the West County Detention Center, where immigrants have incarcerated before being deported. The Contra Costa Sheriff announced he was canceling the contract with Federal authorities under which the jail has housed immigration detainees. Protestors are calling for the detainees to be released to their families, and fear that instead they will be transferred to facilites far away where they will no longer be able to visit them. Fernando Barraza and his youngest daughter. Fernando was freed several weeks before.

A final vigil held September 1, after the ICE facility closed, was a bittersweet moment. For seven years, monthly vigils had been held under the portico next to the center’s doors. After the sheriff was forced to abandon the ICE contract, however, activists and families were forced to gather next to a new chain-link fence, in the traffic lane of the highway outside the detention center’s parking lot.

View Entire Photo Essay

Full Transcript Of Angela Davis’s Women’s March Speech

Women's March on Washington

By Lyndsey Matthews

Elle.com

Jan 21, 2017 – Civil rights activist Angela Davis spoke at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands who gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the Trump administration. Davis, who is known for writing such books as Women, Race, and Class, made a passionate call for resistance and asked the audience to become more militant in their demands for social justice over the next four years of Trump’s presidency.

Read the transcript of the speech in its entirety here:

"At a challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans-people, men and youth who are here at the Women’s March, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, hetero-patriarchy from rising again.

"We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages. We know that we gather this afternoon on indigenous land and we follow the lead of the first peoples who despite massive genocidal violence have never relinquished the struggle for land, water, culture, their people. We especially salute today the Standing Rock Sioux.

"The freedom struggles of black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with the sweep of a hand. We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement. Spreading xenophobia, hurling accusations of murder and rape and building walls will not erase history.

"No human being is illegal.

"The struggle to save the planet, to stop climate change, to guarantee the accessibility of water from the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, to Flint, Michigan, to the West Bank and Gaza. The struggle to save our flora and fauna, to save the air—this is ground zero of the struggle for social justice.

"This is a women’s march and this women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. And inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation.

"Yes, we salute the fight for 15. We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance. Resistance to the billionaire mortgage profiteers and gentrifiers. Resistance to the health care privateers. Resistance to the attacks on Muslims and on immigrants. Resistance to attacks on disabled people. Resistance to state violence perpetrated by the police and through the prison industrial complex. Resistance to institutional and intimate gender violence, especially against trans women of color.

"Women’s rights are human rights all over the planet and that is why we say freedom and justice for Palestine. We celebrate the impending release of Chelsea Manning. And Oscar López Rivera. But we also say free Leonard Peltier. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Free Assata Shakur.

"Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations. Those who still defend the supremacy of white male hetero-patriarchy had better watch out.

"The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.

"This is just the beginning and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’ Thank you."

Anti-Racist Organizers Win as Seattle Council Votes to End Youth Incarceration

Young people pressuring city council meeting

By Marcus Harrison Green

Yes! Magazine

Oct 2, 2015 – After a three-year crusade of protest, agitation, and organizing, a Seattle City Council meeting on September 21 brought a major victory to a diverse coalition of youth-prison abolitionists and anti-racist organizers.

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the youth activists.”
In a 9-0 unanimous decision, Seattle’s City Council passed a resolution that fully endorses the goal of zero-percent detention of youth [1], and called for the city to develop policies eliminating the necessity of their imprisonment.

While Council Member Mike O’Brien introduced the resolution in a committee meeting last week, it originated with three organizations that advocate for the abolition of juvenile incarceration: Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC),  Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), and the Seattle branch of the anti-racist organization European Dissent.

“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the youth activists,” said Council Member Nick Licata prior to the resolution’s passage. “They’re the ones who created the huge pressure on the county and also the city.”

Seattle’s movement for ending youth incarceration picked up speed after the same city council in 2012 voted overwhelmingly (8-1, with only Kshama Sawant opposed) to fund the replacement of an existing youth detention facility with a new one. What struck organizers at that time was the $210 million poured into the facility.

“I was here the day all except Council Member Sawant voted to build a youth jail with $200 million of our tax money,” asserted white anti-racist organizer James Kahn, addressing the city council. “The movement did not stop after those defeats. The movement could not stop or end until we stop putting children in cages.” (Continued)

Continue reading “Anti-Racist Organizers Win as Seattle Council Votes to End Youth Incarceration”