On July 12, a nationwide vigil was held around sundown at ICE detention sites or offices in most states under the name Lights for Liberty. There were TCDSA members present at at least two Minnesota vigils at the Sherburne County Jail and the Fred Whipple Federal Office Building. The Sherburne County Jail in Elk River is Minnesota’s largest ICE detention facility, and the Fred Whipple Federal Office Building – on the border of Fort Snelling, just by the Fort Snelling LRT station – is ICE’s central office in the state and the site of immigration hearings and deportation trials.
I was at the vigil in Elk River, along with three TCDSA comrades and three women from my church, a former sanctuary church in the 1980s and still active through our Peace with Justice Committee on immigration rights issues. We arrived shortly before 8:00 pm at which time there was a trickle of people arriving that would soon become a flood. There were about 80-100 local activists (who picket there every Wednesday evening) and about 40-60 people from the Twin Cities and perhaps as many as 100 more from all across the state, including sizeable groups from Duluth and Mankato.
The program kicked off about 8:15 with a great group of speakers. The keynote speaker was a local clergywoman from the UCC denomination. SheHer speech repeated the phrase “We cannot look away” as sheit detailed most of the recent human rights violations and outright atrocities occurring daily on our southern border. From the Twin Cities we heard from Rep. Frank Hornstein and from a Somali immigrant activist named Abdi. A trio of local musicians led us in some inspirational songs. Then we all switched on handheld lights or lighted candles and walked slowly and quietly around the building to the detainee intake door where we had a brief prayer and a ten minute silent vigil.
The No More Cages Coalition, which brings together many TCDSA comrades with activists from other organizations to carry out both informational and direct action campaigns, has reactivated. There will be opportunities in the near future to do more of this type of action and even more direct if it is necessary. Inquire in the #antiicemobilization channel in Slack if you want to get involved with No More Cages.
– Deb R.