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New Energies at April’s Let Our People Go Protest

by Sam Davis

At last month’s Let Our People Go protest at the Richmond jail (also known as the West County Detention Facility), the 150 people gathered were so moved to see the family of Fernando Carrillo reunited. His wife, Lourdes, has spoken at many of our protests, and has done an amazing job organizing community support which led to Fernando’s release on April 2nd, after six long months of detention at the jail. It was beautiful to see his youngest daughter playing happily at the event. When her dad was in jail, she had always been shy and tearful. Unfortunately, after the protest, the Department of Homeland Security opted to appeal the judge’s decision to release Fernando, and although we believe Fernando will remain free during this process, the family’s travails are far from over. But they continue to fight, both for Fernando and for others too: at Let Our People Go, Fernando and Lourdes invited everyone to show up at other detainees’ court hearings, and invited another family to the mic to speak about their case.

This month, the Let Our People Go organizing umbrella welcomed the energy of student activists from Holy Names College, who helped to MC the event and read an original spoken word piece. Attendees also heard from Rabbi Dev about the meaning of Let Our People Go in the Passover season, from poet/organizer Pennie Opal Plant about how this issue is experienced by Native people, and from Oakland Community Organizations organizer Dhoryan Rizo about Contra Costa County’s new Stand Together Contra Costa rapid response immigrant rights hotline, which is staffed by several organizations including OCO. By passing the hat, we raised over $600 to support Stand Together Contra Costa. At a table, new Let Our People Go organizers from Congregation Beth El had folks write letters to individual ICE detainees.

Join the growing momentum and stand with your community against the inhuman treatment of prisoners of all kinds— come to the next Let Our People Go protest. On Mother’s Day (May 13th), we will focus on the special situation confronted by mothers in jail and ask everyone to bring flowers for imprisoned moms.

Let Our People Go is led by Kehilla’s Immigration Committee at the Richmond jail where at any moment, 200 immigrants are being held by ICE, and those in the general population who can’t make bail pre-trial are experiencing the same destructive loss of loved ones, jobs, and freedom.

Protests are held monthly every second Sunday from 11 AM to noon at West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Hwy, Richmond, CA 94806. The next actions fall on May 13th (Mother’s Day!) and June 10th. More information:  facebook.com/letourpeoplego.

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