Jewish activists say ‘never again is now’ as they shut down US ‘concentration camp’

ICE protest
John McEvoy

On 30 June, US police arrested over 30 Jewish activists protesting an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre in New Jersey. The activists, citing the Holocaust, said “never again” would they stand by while a government systematically abuses a minority population. They then blocked access to Elizabeth Detention Center, “preventing access to staff and visitor parking lots”.

“Never again is now”

On 13 June, detention expert Andrea Pitzer claimed that the Donald Trump administration is running “concentration camps” on the US border with Mexico. She explained:

We have what I would call a concentration camp system and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial.

In response to the US government’s “cruel” detention policy, a group of Jewish activists under the banner of “Never Again Actionmarched to an ICE detention centre to paralyse its operations. In a press release, the group wrote:

36 Jews were arrested shutting down the road that provides access to the detention center. The protestors sang Jewish prayers of healing and mourning to grieve for those who have fallen ill or lost their lives because of ICE and CBP’s [Customs and Border Protection] inhumane policies.

Tae Phoenix, one of the protesters, said:

I’m a Jewish Latina. The military camps where my people are being held today are concentration camps; just like the camps my people were held in 75 years ago were concentration camps… That’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re here.

Resistance

Those on the ground shared videos of the protest on Twitter:

And US congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who has also been outspoken on this issue – showed her support for the campaign:

Longstanding, systematic racism

Trump’s persistent racism makes the US government’s dire treatment of asylum seekers somewhat easier to understand. But ICE detention camps did not begin under Trump, and were prevalent during the Barack Obama administration too. In this sense, it is important not to overlook Obama’s destructive legacy – which includes the bombing of Libya and the subsequent return of open-air slave markets in Africa.

Many of the asylum seekers at the US-Mexican border, moreover, have been displaced as a result of many decades of disastrous US intervention throughout Latin America. As The Canary reported in response to the ‘migrant caravan’ story in October 2018:

US interference [in Honduras] fits neatly into a story of countless CIA operations in Latin America, supporting coups and brutal right-wing dictatorships, and of vicious destabilisation campaigns which violated international law

As such, Never Again Action is leading the way in confronting not just Trump but longstanding, systematic racism from the US political establishment.

Featured image via Alyssa Rubin/Screengrab

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