Freedom Side’s Emerging Radical Democratic Imagination

Protesters with Freedom Side marched to the National Governor’s Association meeting in Nashville last year, before engaging in their first act of civil disobedience. (Twitter / Freedom Side)

By Geoff Gilbert in Waging NonViolence – The young black and brown activists descended on Nashville to stand together in resistance against the policies that criminalize them — policing practices that have the effect of racial and socio-economic profiling, like “broken windows” policies; excessive drug sentences and drug enforcement in low-income communities; the systematic separation of immigrant families made more efficient by the post-9/11 creation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security; and the perverse social incentives created by increasing privatization of prisons and detention centers. “Criminalization of young people of color has different guises, but it’s all the same,” said Malaya Davis, an organizer with the Ohio Student Association, or OSA. “[Our] demand was just for the governors to somehow acknowledge our presence and statements.”

I Interrupted Obama Because We Need To Be Heard

Jennicet Gutiérrez at the White House on June 24, 2015 Photo: Melissa Sklarz

By Jennicet Gutiérrez in Washington Blade – Pride celebrations of the LGBTQ community are taking place throughout the nation. The community takes great pride in celebrating our diversity and the progress we have made throughout the years. However, for the immigrant LGBTQ community progress has not been fully realized because of the continuous discrimination and violence we face in our daily lives. I was fortunate to be invited to the White House to listen to President Obama’s speech recognizing the LGBTQ community and the progress being made. But while he spoke of ‘trans women of color being targeted,’ his administration holds LGBTQ and trans immigrants in detention. I spoke out because our issues and struggles can no longer be ignored.

Activists In Berlin Dig 100 Mock Graves To Highlight Refugee Crisis

Symbolic refugee graves are set up in front of the Bundestag during a protest in Berlin, Germany, June 21, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)

By RT – Some 5,000 activists in Berlin rallied in front of Reichstag and dug at least one hundred graves to express their solidarity with asylum seekers, who have died trying to reach Europe after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries. The rally was organized by the Center for Political Beauty; a group, which says it wants to “re-transform Europe into a continent of immigration.” The organization used the controversial slogan: “The Dead Are Coming,” while they have also made art works to spread their message. The protest, which took place a day after UN World Refugee Day, gathered at least 5,000 people, according to police estimates. An officer told AFP that a “small number” of people were arrested for minor offences. The activists, many of them dressed in black, carried improvised coffins, which apparently symbolize the caskets of asylum seekers who have died while trying to make their way to Europe.

200 Detainees Stage Hunger Strike At Eloy Detention Center

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By Phil Benson in KPHO – More than 200 immigrant detainees launched a hunger strike Saturday at the Eloy Detention Center. At 9:45 a.m., the men sat down in the recreation yard and declared a hunger strike over what they call brutal and inhumane conditions, according to grassroots justice organization Puente Arizona. Protesters stood outside the detention facility all day Saturday, holding signs to show their solidarity with the strikers. The group said it is demanding improved conditions, access to legal resources and court hearings and an independent investigation into two recent deaths after what it calls “guard abuse.” “The deaths of these two men has triggered outrage of people that have nothing but their bodies as a way to demand justice,” supporter Francisca Porchas said.

Arizona Protesters Organize Against Border Patrol Checkpoints

Protesters at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Arivaca, Arizona on May 27. (Twitter/No More Deaths)

Protesters from a small Arizona town staged a demonstration at a nearby border checkpoint early on May 27 to express their opposition to its presence as well as the discriminatory and racist practices of Border Patrol. “If I was with a ‘brown’ person, I’m stopped. If I’m by myself, I’m a honkey, and I go right through,” protester Susan Thorpe told News 4 Tucson. “That makes me very sad to see what’s happened to my country.” About 100 people from the town of Arivaca, Arizona made their way to the temporary Border Patrol checkpoint on Arivaca Road, about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

World To Review US Human Rights Record

aclu United Nations

Starting Monday, the United States’ human rights record will be subject to international scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council. It may just be the perfect catalyst for the Obama administration to make good on past and present wrongs that should never be associated with a liberal democracy predicated on respect for human rights. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is part of a regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member countries and will be the second review of its kind for the U.S. since 2010. The review comes at a critical time when the U.S. human rights record has been criticized for falling short of meeting international human rights standards. From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.

Hunger Striking Mothers Sue ICE & Private Prison For Retaliation

An outdoor area at the Karnes County Residential Center, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement prison, which holds women and children detainees coming from the Rio Grande Valley border region, in Karnes City, Texas, July 31, 2014. (Jennifer Whitney/The New York Times)

Three Central American mothers who participated in hunger strikes at the Karnes prison camp in Texas have filed suit in a federal court against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña and staffers with the private prison company running the immigrant-family prison on behalf of dozens of women who went on hunger strike or acted in solidarity with the strikers in two separate protests in April. Delmy Cruz, Polyane Oliveira and Lilian Rosado argue in a complaint filed last week that they were unjustly retaliated against for protesting their incarceration and the reportedly deplorable conditions inside the Karnes County Residential Center, operated by the private prison company GEO Group.

Private Prison Sued For Putting Hunger Striking Moms In Solitary

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the Department of Homeland Securities policies regarding apprehension, detention and release of illegal immigrants in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill March 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. During her first appearance before the committee after being sworn in almost three months ago, Saldana faced aggressive questioning | Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Three immigrant women who say they were punished for joining a hunger strike in a Texas family detention center on Thursday sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and GEO Group, the company that operates the facility. The lawsuit, filed in federal court against ICE Director Sarah Saldaña and personnel at the Karnes County Residential Center, seeks to prohibit ICE and GEO from putting women and their children in isolation as punishment for protesting, and from threatening to separate mothers from their children. “All we’re asking is that under the First Amendment, for ICE officials and GEO officials to stop retaliating against the women and allow them to peacefully protest,” said Ranjana Natarajan, an attorney with the University of Texas Civil Rights Clinic, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the women.

Judge Dismisses All Charges Against The Stewart 5

Immigration Stewart Detention Center protest

Stewart County Superior Court Judge James Sizemore dismissed all charges against human rights activists Anton Flores, Jason MsGaughey, Kevin Caron, Maureen Fitzsimmons and Rebecca Kanner. The five had been arrested on Saturday, November 22, 2014, during the November Vigil weekend in Georgia, as they crossed the line onto Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) property to call for the closure of Stewart Detention Center. Owned and operated by the Corrections Corportation of America (CCA), Stewart is one of the largest private, for-profit immigrant detention facility in the US, warehousing approximately 1,800 men. Through their peaceful action, the Stewart 5 were prepared to speak about the inhumane conditions that exist there, while at the same time raising public awareness about the racist immigration policies that allow places like Stewart to exist. To speak truth to power and to use the courtroom to put Stewart Detention Center on trial, our friends traveled long distances, from Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Washington, DC; Atlanta and LaGrange, Georgia.

Dozens Of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike At Immigrant Detention Center

Protesters demand closure of the Karnes, Texas immigrant detention center in January 2015. (Photo: WeAreUltraViolet/flickr/cc)

About 40 women being held at the privately-run Karnes Family Detention Center in southern Texas launched a hunger strike this week to demand their release and the release of their families, vowing on Tuesday not to eat, work, or use the services at the facility until they are freed. Nearly 80 women being held at the center, many of whom are said to be asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, signed aletter stating that they have all been refused bond despite having established a credible fear of violence if they are sent back to Central America—a key factor in the U.S. government’s process for screening detained immigrants to allow them amnesty.

Anti-Islam Group Cancels March As Anti-Racists Convene

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A march organized by sympathizers of a Europe-based anti-Islam, anti-immigration group called PEGIDA was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of people showed up to protest against PEGIDA itself. The self-described leader of the relatively new PEGIDA Québec chapter, Jean-François Asgard, told Radio-Canada that “Islam needs to reform itself or leave the West.” Jaggi Singh of the No One Is Illegal activist group helped organize Saturday’s counter-protest. Hundreds of people toting signs denouncing racism and Islamophobia arrived 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the PEGIDA march, set to take place in a largely Muslim community in Montreal called Little Maghreb.

Texas Prison Riot: 2,800 Inmates Moved From ‘Uninhabitable’ Facility

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After 2,000 inmates, mostly immigrants, took over a Texas prison in a riot over poor medical services, federal authorities have decided to relocate all the detainees from the now “uninhabitable” correctional facility. The riot at the Willacy County Correctional Center erupted on Friday afternoon, when prisoners refused to eat breakfast or report for work to protest medical services at the facility. The prison was practically run over by the inmates, who continue to hold down the fort. It still remains unclear what medical service issues had upset the inmates. Only around 800 to 900 inmates have refused to riot in a facility that holds some 2,900 people, most of whom are immigrants with criminal record.

Judge Temporarily Halts Obama's Immigration Actions

Despite executive summary of Senate panel's report on Tuesday, President Obama is still unwilling to pursue real accountability for those who designed, approved, and executed the CIA's torture program under his predecessor, George W. Bush. (Photo: AP file)

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Monday that will temporarily prevent the Obama administration from moving forward with its executive actions on immigration while a lawsuit against the president works its way through the courts. The order, by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, was an early stumble for the administration in what will likely be a long legal battle over whether President Barack Obama overstepped his constitutional authority with the wide-reaching executive actions on immigration he announced last November. While the injunction does not pronounce Obama’s actions illegal, it prevents the administration from implementing them until the court rules on their constitutionality. The federal government is expected to appeal the ruling.

US Immigration Battle Intensifies

Central American migrants ride a freight train during their journey toward the US-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico.  (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

In an escalating dispute with President Barack Obama, Republican members of the United States House of Representatives have passed a bill which will cut any funding to the Department of Homeland Security for suspending the deportation of undocumented people. In December the President ordered the department, beginning this spring, to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants with US-born children (who are thus US citizens). A previous Obama order suspended the deportation of young people without documents, brought to the US as children. The Republican bill would rescind both orders. A new, Republican-dominated Congress took office in January. Congress must fund the department by 27 February or it could shut down.

35,000 Germans Rally In Dresden Against Racism & Xenophobia

Germany Dresden protest against racism

A rally against racism and xenophobia on Saturday drew tens of thousands of people in the eastern German city of Dresden, which has become the center of anti-immigration protests organized by a new grassroots movement called PEGIDA. “We won’t permit that hate will divide us”, Dresden’s mayor Helma Orosz said in front of the 18th-century Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Around 35,000 people attended the rally that was jointly organized by the state government of Saxony and the city of Dresden, officials said. The movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) is holding weekly rallies in Dresden with a record number of 18,000 people attending last Monday. Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Muslim demonstrations, urging Germans to turn their backs on the movement and calling their organizers racists full of hatred. A recent survey, conducted before Wednesday’s deadly attack on a French satirical magazine, showed that an increasing majority of non-Muslim Germans feel threatened by Islam. The Paris attack has fueled fears that it could boost anti-immigration movements around Europe and inflame a culture war about the place of religion and ethnic identity in society.