In a time of profound threats to human rights, we recognize and celebrate when our collective action has an impact. Standing up for our fellow humans in a visible, collective way matters. Achieving concrete wins invigorates the weary and inspires new activism.
On July 10th Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston announced the cancellation of the contract with ICE at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF). This is an important victory. However, our work is far from over. The local closing of an ICE jail poses challenges and hardship for local communities whose loved ones have been detained there and now face transfer to ICE jails around the country. We must demand the immediate release, not transfer, of detainees, and we must mobilize to abolish ICE nationally and shut down the immoral system of mass incarceration.
Leading up to the ICE contract cancellation at WCDF
Years of community mobilization, with increasingly larger and more frequent demonstrations outside of WCDF, preceded Sheriff Livingston’s decision to end the ICE contract. The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has been holding monthly protests at WCDF for the past seven years. After the Trump administration took office, members of the Kehilla Immigration Committee, along with members of Congregation Beth El, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Bend the Arc organized a second monthly protest, called Let Our People Go. Additionally, many Kehilla members have written letters to detainees, fundraised for bond/bail, supported families at immigration court hearings, and donated funds and necessities to families with detained loved ones.
The persistent protests at WCDF have provided inspiration to other progressive groups to work to end immigration detention and mass incarceration. Some, for example, have responded by pressuring local politicians to end the ICE contract, while others have focused energy on SB10 to end discriminatory jailing for lack of bail.
Let Our People Go, in conjunction with Families Belong Together and Move On’s National Day of Action organized a protest on June 30th. The “zero humanity” policy at the border and horrific footage of family separations spurred a crowd of about 3,000 people to come to WCDF to voice their opposition to inhumane policies and to hear rousing speeches from local activists and politicians
The subsequent July 8th Let Our People Go protest drew a crowd of around 300. The speakers that day focused on the plight and needs of queer, trans, and gender-expansive people of color and migrants who face particularly brutal treatment in the U.S. detention and prison system.
The cancellation of the ICE contract will not be the end of our demonstrations at WCDF. Join us, invite others, and spread the word about the August 12th 11am Let Our People Go protest to demand Release, Not Transfer! We will raise funds to free detained people, as we demand a humane asylum and immigration policy and an end to mass incarceration, bigotry, and poverty imprisonment.
Please also consider supporting the bond fund that aims to release every eligible person held in Richmond ICE detention before they are transferred away from their families. https://www.aplos.com/aws/give/CIVIC/WCDFFund