Taking Action Against Concentration Camps

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On Thursday, August 8, shortly after noon, approximately 100 activists descended on Thrivent Financial Services—a local Lutheran investment bank that’s invested an estimated $4 million in companies that run ICE detention centers—to hold a public memorial for children killed in ICE custody over the last year.

We had intended to enter the building to hold our memorial in the company cafeteria, but Thrivent was tipped off (possibly by a right-wing “reporter” filming our action) and put its building on lockdown. This proved no barrier to our action, as we held the memorial on Thrivent’s front steps, with employees pressed against the glass watching us from above, before taking to the skyways and protesting there.

On their steps, we eulogized these seven children who came to the United States seeking asylum, security, freedom, or a better life, and instead found unjust detention and death:

  • Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, age 16
  • Juan de León Gutiérrez, age 16
  • Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, age 10
  • Felipe Gómez Alonzo, age 8
  • Jakelin Caal Maquín, age 7
  • Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, age 2
  • Mariee Juárez, age 1

Footage and photos are here (please share, and check the TCDSA accounts for more!):

https://www.facebook.com/NoCagesMN/photos/a.489985028214370/489984508214422/

https://twitter.com/NoCagesMn/status/1158391441355358209

One employee wrote us later that day (quoted anonymously with permission; we verified their identity):

“As a Minneapolis Thrivent employee, I was shocked when I heard over the intercom that the building was on lockdown during the demonstration. We all breathed easy when we finally heard that it was just a protest. However, had it not been for this event and resulting lockdown, I wouldn’t have known about my company’s investments in these terrible groups. It also resulted in my teammates and I having good conversation as we feel the weight of this ethical issue. I support your cause and will be on the lookout for opportunities both internally and externally to participate in getting the message heard. Thank you!”

DSA comrades played a major role in this action, comprising the majority of the action’s core planning team and turning out in force for an action despite its inconvenient timing for many who supported it.

We coordinated the action through the No Cages Coalition, a formation that grew last summer out of a collaboration between DSA, the International Socialist Organization (now defunct), and Industrial Workers of the World – General Defense Committee comrades, and today is primarily DSA members and a few independent activists. The action was also co-sponsored by MIRAC – Minneapolis Immigrant Rights Action Coalition, who provided a speaker who underscored the inhumanity of the entire immigration enforcement system. Going forward, our chapter should discuss what role we want to play in the immigrant rights movement locally and how best to organize it (e.g., should we have a formal working group? Does it make sense to continue working primarily through a “coalition” that is mostly members of our group?).

WHAT’S NEXT?

According to its most recent public SEC filing, on March 31 of this year, Thrivent holds stocks that at today’s values total about $1.5 million in CoreCivic and about $2.5 million in GEO Group. CoreCivic and GEO Group are the two largest companies operating private ICE detention facilities, including the concentration camps at the border.

We plan to continue a campaign for Thrivent to divest from these companies, as several other banks have recently been forced by activist pressure to do. By the time you read this, we’ll have carried out a coordinated social media action. We will be planning our next steps at a meeting on Tuesday, August 20, 7-9 PM, in the UMN Social Sciences building room 614, to plan our next steps.

At the same time that we’re stepping up our work locally, DSA’s national Immigrant Rights Working Group (IRWG) is reconstituting itself as a more participatory, action-oriented body. Among other things, this is meant to fulfill the mandate of three resolutions passed at the national convention—“Defense of Immigrants and Refugees” (which includes a commitment to national-scale mobilization against the camps), “Orienting to Latinx Communities,” and “Support for Open Borders.”

One major focus is a series of nationally-coordinated regional actions that we propose organizing for Indigenous People’s Day weekend, Oct 12-14. This plan comes out of a collaboration with a number of other organizations and activists, including indigenous socialists. The idea is to have a series of actions at strategic locations that are built through broad local collaborations and that initiate or escalate continuing campaigns against the whole ICE apparatus—whether detention centers themselves, ICE’s corporate collaborators, or local and state governments that facilitate ICE targeting their residents.

For us in Minnesota, this potentially opens up possibilities for developing regional collaborations that will likely be necessary if we are going, for example, to stop the planned expansion of ICE detention into Elk River or Appleton.

There will be a national webinar for any DSA members involved in migration justice organizing—or who want to be—at 7 PM on Monday, August 19 to initiate these efforts. (An RSVP link will soon be posted on the DSA website, or ask Elizabeth W-F for call-in info.)

For more information about our chapter’s immigrant rights work or to get involved, talk with Amy T, Diana W, Elizabeth W-F, or Giselda R — or just show up to the meeting on Tuesday.

NEXT MEETING
Tuesday, August 20
7-9 PM
Social Sciences Building in UMN West Bank campus
room 614
If the door is locked, text 646.320.6880 for entry

– Elizabeth W-F.

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