Two Protesters Arrested at ICE Field Office in Atlanta


20190715_122100(APN) ATLANTA — Two activists were arrested at a “Never Again” action at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office in Atlanta on Monday, July 15, 2019.  


Calvin Runnels, a Rhodes Scholar from Georgia Tech and an openly transgender male, was arrested at the ICE protest as a hundred people blocked the ICE driveway.


After his release from jail, Runnels, who is Jewish, wrote a letter to fellow Jews in the United States to join him in fighting the demonization of immigrants and to demand the closure of all concentration camps holding children and asylum seekers.


“I have watched with disgust and outrage the no-so-gradual escalation of a genocidal program against immigrants, Latinx people and other people of color,” Runnels wrote in the letter, obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.


Jeff Corkill, a high school history teacher and a member of Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, was also arrested.  He handcuffed himself to the front gate of the ICE building on Ted Turner Drive.  


Police officers cut the handcuffs off from the gate and about ten minutes later arrested Corkill.  His wife, Tracy Prescott, struggled with officers to loosen the chokehold they had on her husband who was having difficulty breathing.  


The next day, Tuesday, July 16, Corkill and Runnels were released after 24 hours in the Atlanta City Detention Center, where they were charged with disorderly conduct, a city code violation.


Before his arrest, Corkill told APN he handcuffed himself to the gate “to try and put an end to the concentration camps that we have in this country… it takes actions like this to draw attention to it and get more people to act.”


Never Again is a group with many Jewish members that sprung up recently after several Members of U.S. Congress reported back on their visits to migrant detention centers.


Members of Congress have reported overcrowding; unsanitary conditions; infants, babies, and children crying for their parents; migrant detainees not allowed to take showers or brush their teeth; and women reporting they had no water to drink and that guards told them to drink out of the toilet. 


These and other inhumane conditions have lit a firestorm of protests across the country to demand no family separation, no concentration camps and that migrants be treated humanely. 


“This Administration is heading toward fascism, if not already there.  They meet all the criteria: they have already succeeded in making migrants less than human, which is what happened in Europe with Jews,” Prescott told APN. 


“Hitler’s term was ‘vermin’ for the Jews in camps, and this administration wants to portray asylum seekers as animals as something less than human.  These people are asylum seekers. They are women who have had their babies taken away and then shoved into a dog-type kennel. I would not treat an animal like this,” Prescott said. 


“Detention Centers are very similar to the Nazi concentration camps and similar to the Japanese internment camps in the US.   We see what appears to be very similar to the escalation in the early concentration camps that were utilized by the Nazis in Nazi Germany,” Gabrielle Stern, a Never Again member, told APN.   


The humanitarian crisis at the border has been created by Trump’s racist immigration policies that are designed to be cruel and inhumane to discourage migrants from coming to this country.


About half of the migrants are arguably climate refugees: they are farmers coming from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where, among other issues, droughts and floods are destroying their crops and they can’t feed their families. 


This dry corridor is vulnerable to climate change due to its high exposure to climate-related hazards–hurricanes, violent storms, floods, droughts, and landslides–which devastate crops. according to the US Agency for International Development.


Climate change causes economic instability; this, combined with gang violence and weak or corrupt governments, leaves people with little choice but to flee for their lives.


Scientists project that the droughts will continue and get worse and the World Bank projects that four million people from that area could become climate migrants by 2050.


Judy Conder of Georgia Grassroots Video has taken the following video of the ICE Protest:  


A few days earlier, on Friday, July 12, hundreds gathered at Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in DeKalb County for the “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps” and to show solidarity with immigrants.


Hundreds of thousands of people protested nationwide on July 12 as Trump’s concentration camps sparked “Lights of Liberty” events across the U.S. and also in other countries. 


“We are here because the conditions in these concentration camps are beyond description.  Already 24 adults and six children, that we know about, have died as a result of Trump’s cruel policies,” Tom Hagood of the New Sanctuary Movement said at the Atlanta vigil.  


Others instructed immigrants to not open their door to ICE unless ICE officials show a warrant from a magistrate court judge.


Judy Conder’s video of Liberty of Lights Vigil    


(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2019)

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