Occupy Ice Louisville responds: Another view on the role of the political system to make change

Below is the response of Occupy ICE Louisville to a column LEO Executive Editor Aaron Yarmuth wrote that implored those supporting this movement to continue to protest and resist, but not at the expense of electing Democrats. (See: “Don’t Occupy Dems,” Aug. 15) The thrust of Yarmuth’s column is that Occupy ICE and such movements are crucial and have proven they can force change, but they cannot do so, ultimately, without political support, the kind of support that especially this murder of Republicans will never give.

A message from Occupy ICE

If you’re not familiar with Occupy ICE Louisville, let us introduce ourselves; we are a collective of organizers, activists and allies who have seen what is happening to our immigrant community and choose to fight back. We were birthed from leaders of Mijente Louisville and Black Lives Matter Louisville, which have been doing immigration and racial justice organizing years before this movement was created. Our goal is to abolish Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) and all its collaborating agencies, entirely. 

We demand our children out of cages, our families reunited out of prisons, the end of the racist tactics used by Homeland Security agencies, which are terrorizing immigrant communities, and asylum in this country, for all who seek it, the basic right of human dignity and safety. These demands are echoed in our work and the structure of our movement. We started on July 2 occupying the property of our local ICE office at Camp Compasión as a form of civil disobedience to bring to light that immigrants are targeted within our city. We rallied against known fascists and let them know what we came to do: abolish ICE.

When the police raided our encampment we called on our white allies to carry out a true act of solidarity and put their bodies on the line.

We are not finished, and we are not done.

We do work in various strategies because we are not going to wait for a government rooted in institutional racism and white supremacy to realize that what is happening isn’t right. Disbanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement is absolutely possible, and, while it does require the help and actual support of elected officials, we have no plans on waiting for our future to be freed. To quote the great Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” We cannot align with a political party because, in a bipartisan system, all are guilty of what ICE has become since its creation in 2003. For 15 years, Democrats in Congress have continually funded ICE and have been compliant in their atrocities by refusing to condemn the heinous actions the agency is dealing.

Our people are victims of these decisions despite never being able to be politically heard. While politicians argue and bicker, our families are being thrown in cages, never to be reunited, and stories lost. We as a people cannot wait till November, or the election season or any legislative sessions.

We need ICE gone now.

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This is a movement against human rights violations and to stop a crisis of ethnic cleansing and communities are being completely decimated by racist targeting and imprisonment of black and brown bodies. We ask our supporters to pressure their elected officials to stand up for our immigrant community by joining the cry to “Abolish ICE,” but also take the street and join us on the ground.

This “immigration crisis” is not new.

These attacks have been happening in the barrios of Louisville for decades, children have been separated from their families and kidnapped before any photos went viral. Caring about an issue isn’t enough — we need to resist this regime and protect our people. We are taking control of our narrative and invite you to join us in this movement by staying tune to Occupy ICE Louisville on all our platforms.

To reiterate, our work is in many forms, whether you want to knock on some doors, or yell into a bullhorn, there is a place where your help is needed.

For those who are privileged and are wanting to show up, follow our movement and local efforts that have already been laid down by brown and black organizers, don’t expect a personal invitation or a welcome mat on the door of your allyship.

We too busy fighting to stay alive.

This work is tiring, it’s draining, and it’s filled with emotional trauma that lies within all marginalized communities. But we will always stand up for one another, because we know this movement is so much bigger than ourselves. Our duty is not to onlookers demanding information of our next steps, it’s to our people. Understand that if you are looking to throw down for immigrant rights you need to know your place in this space. Assess your privilege and use that for the betterment of the movement.
—Occupy ICE, Lou@OccupyICELou •

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