Empire is crumbling. Grasping as it breaks apart. Pulling people and the planet down with it as it falls. While we plant love and beauty amidst the debris.
We fight the horror of children separated from their parents at the border and locked into cages. This type travesty is not new to our country, which does not make it less painful or urgent to address.
“We acknowledge the US’s colonial role in decades-long economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.
We acknowledge that this is US history repeating itself. Under nearly 250 years of chattel slavery, families were routinely torn apart. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the Bureau of Indian Affairs forced Native children into abusive boarding schools hundreds and thousands of miles away from their communities. During the 1920s and 30s federal and state governments deported Mexicans and Mexican American citizens on a mass scale and kept limited records – estimates range from 400,000 to 2 million. Euphemistically termed ‘tent cities’ currently being erected in the desert echo the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
We acknowledge that criminalizing and imprisoning migrants and asylum seekers is connected to this country’s out of control incarceration system – the US locks up more people than any other country in the world and disproportionately imprisons those who are Indigenous, Black, and Brown.
We call for an end to family detention. We call for swift reuniting of the families that have been separated. We urge our members, supporters, friends, and allies to stay vigilant, to stay active, stay informed, stay vocal.”
We know, as Mijente posted, “If #EndFamilySeparation is the only demand, DHS and ICE can simply pivot to INCARCERATING families together. This is why we need demands worthy of our people.” Such as #AbolishICE and #AbolishPrisons.
As AlternateROOTS stated, the immigration and detention system is connected to the prison industrial complex in the U.S. Profits are being made on every kind of incarceration.
We need to rage against ALL cages.
“if the brownsville children’s prison is shocking to you,” tweeted Jonathan Jacob Moore, “not-friendly reminder that give or take 60,000 kids are incarcerated in juvenile jails and prisons every day in the US.”
Children also suffer when their parents or caregivers are incarcerated, including when they are locked up because they can’t afford bail.
Of course, it’s not just about children. All people have the right to dignity and freedom.
The Black Youth Project put out a powerful statement connecting family separations at the border to family separations through policing and prisons, and addressing the anti-Blackness embedded in our responses (please read the whole piece, it is not long). Excerpt:
“In this moment, as we come together to speak out against these horrendous actions at the border, it is important that we also examine why these children and these families have evoked such a strong emotional response from the public, and with white liberals specifically…
We must not allow this issue at the border to be separated from the fight against prisons and policing—they are the same issue. Those who are working towards ending prisons should also be doing and supporting the work to end detention centers—because it is our duty to fight.
It must be said that those who are now so concerned and teary-eyed about the travesty of these family separations at the border should be equally active in advocating for all the parents separated from their children behind bars…
There is anti-Blackness at play here and it must be called out, clearly and often. Put simply, if you agree that breaking the law does not strip the folks entering the border of their humanity, it is imperative that you ask yourself if you feel the same about the Black youth currently in jail, disproportionately.”
The system wants to fragment our struggles. We can see how they are all connected.
Policing and Priorities in Asheville
At the June 19 Asheville City Council meeting, the FY 18-19 budget was passed with an additional $2 million going to the police department, which, according to Beloved Asheville, moved Asheville to being the highest policed city in the state (with more police than the national average for cities our size). The police department is the city’s largest budget line item, while the Equity Office is the smallest. The budget does not reflect the values and priorities council claims to have. Thanks to Sheneika Smith, Brian Haynes, and Keith Young for voting against the budget.
Poverty and inequity are violent manifestations of systemic oppression. They are the crimes we should be using our resources to address. Putting millions of dollars towards policing will do nothing to cure the causes of our community ills. On the contrary, it will create additional stresses and devastation in the lives of those most likely to be targeted by the police. The police are part of the system that separates families every day.
At that same meeting, after significant public comment (some of it quite troubling in it’s blatant racism), the three police reform resolutions that were passed at May 22 meeting were rescinded, and “instead of directing interim City Manager Cathy Ball to implement written consent, search rationale and regulatory stop policies herself,” new resolutions were passed with language that “authorizes her to work with the APD to develop those policies” (Xpress). We will need to remain vigilant about these reforms. Read this Asheville Blade piece, Reform vs. racism, for more context.
As I think about the beauty and love we are planting, I am heartened by the work of the Dream Defenders, particularly their newly published “Freedom Papers,” a call to free the people: body, mind, and soul. While Florida-focused, they offer a powerful and potent vision for us all. Here’s a short video about them:
“We can live in a state — in a country — where no child is left alone, in the cold, or behind bars, where children feel free and safe when they walk to the store, play in the park, or are on their way to school in the morning. We can live in a state where parents and teachers are given everything they need to support the raising of our children. We don’t have to let another parent lose their child to a bullet, a badge or a dollar sign.”
The papers beautifully call for:
Freedom from poverty
Freedom from prisons and police
Freedom of mind
A free, flourishing democracy
Freedom of movement
Freedom from war, violence and environmental destruction
Freedom to be
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