|Michael Cutting with a warning for us all (photos mine unless otherwise noted)|
Yesterday at the ICE facility in South Portland, Maine, I joined about 50 people horrified by the torture of children in concentration camps, children who are caged and denied basic hygiene after being separated from their parents and other family members.
It was so hot that my phone quit working after the first 40 minutes so I did not get all the photos I had hoped to get. The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald both covered the action and showed the 14 people who sat down and refused to move until the camps are closed. They were issued citations after a long time sitting on hot pavement. My sheroes and heroes, all.
Ably led by Catholic Worker Jessica Stewart from her wheelchair, the action repeated one a year ago for the audience of Homeland Security employees. Message for this target group: "just following orders" will not excuse you morally. It will not even protect you under international law when the torture of children is finally adjudicated.
Heed our warning now: exert your moral agency, and step away from doing evil.
I was so hot that I got a migraine, and on the drive home reflected that I had failed to ask the officers if any of them were members of the notorious "I'm 10-15" closed group for Border Patrol agents now archived (with a name change) on Facebook.
|Border Patrol agent Jason D. Owens with Senator Susan Collins, who has shown a great fondness for fascism since the demagogue with bad hair was elected in 2016.|
The head Border Patrol agent in Houlton, Maine, Jason D. Owens, was a member of the group before it caught the attention of ProPublica and vanished.
The group's posts regularly featured sadistic memes and jokes aimed at "tonks" which is apparently what these cops call migrants based on the sound it makes when their heads are struck with a flashlight.
In case you're wondering why we protest.
In case you're wondering why I didn't sit down, too, it's because I'm still out on bail for my arrest blocking the road at a war ship launch by Bath Iron Works on June 22.
Another member of the Inouye 22, Ashley Bahlkow, was in SoPo yesterday with her husband and their 2 year old. We were both avoiding arrest for the same reason. When I remarked on the numerous reporters present, she observed that news outlets in Maine are a lot more reticent about covering protests of General Dynamic$, which owns Bath Iron Works.
Another friend I saw that did risk arrest was organizer Mary Dunn. It was a first time for her and I was super proud of her endurance and commitment. She has been holding weekly "close the camps" vigils on Fridays in Waterville, Maine and has just recently connected with Jessica Stewart. These women are formidable and I can't imagine having better advocates for justice for children.
Elizabeth Leonard was also on hand playing guitar and leading songs to keep morale up. Based on Mary's post about the experience, it sounds like it worked.
|Photo credit: Brianna Soukup, Portland Press Herald|
While the sit-down was underway, we were informed that ICE had arrested six people in Rangely, Maine. A very small town high in the Western Mountains, and the type of tourist destination that is scrambling to staff its hospitality business as the federal government continues to prosecute those willing to travel far from home to work at those jobs. Cruelty is not very rational when it comes to economics.
How many people refuse to vacation in the U.S. as they boycott the cruelty? We'll never know for sure, but I know some individuals personally who are boycotting. And I can't say that I blame them.
Maine was once Vacationland but today will break a record for hottest ever recorded in Portland. The evil empire seems determined to go full throttle off the moral and environmental cliff.
I'll keep protesting until I literally cannot continue. See you in the streets.
With my friend Jacqui Deveneau yesterday. (Photo credit: Robin Farrin)
Protest wherever you go! To order a t-shirt with my sign design on it you can click here. Proceeds go to RAICES, a legal advocacy organization working directly to support migrants and asylum seekers. Thanks to my childhood friend Rebecca Northcutt for setting that up and spreading the image around Santa Cruz, California. We are allies from coast to coast demanding: CLOSE THE CAMPS!