Thursday, June 27, 2019

U.S. Concentration Camps Housing Children In Conditions Of Torture Where Some Die #nobabyprisons

Copley Plaza, Boston, June 26, 2019  Photo credit: Faith Ninivaggi, Reuters
While I've been busy organizing resistance to climate-killing weapons of mass destruction, the news has been full of horrifying accounts of migrant children jailed, kept from their families, and neglected to the point of death. My husband has been calling our congressional delegation from Maine every day demanding that they visit the centers, close them down, and reunite the children with their families.

It terrifies me that by paying federal income taxes (deducted from my salary as a school teacher) I am complicit in these racist,  for-profit schemes of death dealing.

Soon I will retire, and I will have more opportunity to resist paying those taxes. And more time to organize and participate in resistance.

Copley Plaza, Boston, June 26, 2019  Photo credit: Charles Krupa, Associated Press

Yesterday employees at Wayfair furniture walked off the job protesting the fact that the corporation profits from child detention. They were supported by hundreds in the streets in Boston.

As reported by Joey Garrison in USA Today:
"We don't want our company to profit off of children being in concentration camps," said Madeline Howard, 29, a project manager at Wayfair, who has worked there six years and emceed the event. 
"We want them to have a code of ethics that blocks orders like this from happening again."

Wayfare's owners have said they donated a large sum to the Red Cross, but they won't cancel the contract to supply beds to yet another concentration camp under construction in Texas. Wayfare's employees say another walkout could be in the works. (Maybe a trip to Boston is in my summer plans.) 

"We do care" is a reference to the First Lady touring the Mexico-U.S. border last year wearing a jacket that read, "I really don't care, do U?"

Last year a few times I donated to support activist Patricia Okoumou of Staten Island. She made several famous climbs -- one up the Statue of Liberty's base, two up the Eiffel Tower, and one up Southwest Key which operates several detention center in Texas -- to call attention to the horrors of children in concentration camps.

Okoumou marching before her Statue of Liberty climb, NYC, August 6, 2018     Photo credit: Alex Hollings

She is now being harassed by GoFundMe threatening to withhold $20k donated by her supporters to help her continue her work. Allegedly, because she posted an update that she is pregnant. 

Last year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gornstein sentenced her to harsh conditions of release saying that she was supporting herself by profiting from her activism.

Okay if General Dynamics profits off the detention centers, war ships and other death dealing though, right? Because that's the American Way. (General Dynamics could well be the poster child for the ugly, ugly mess we're in.)

These are the values of our government: ok to profit from jailing toddlers in squalid conditions, not ok to "profit" from objecting to those jails in a way designed to attract publicity.

Okoumou has opened a new account at Patreon.

Meanwhile there is the brouhaha in the corporate press because Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted on Instagram, "The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border."

Some have objected to the use of Holocaust language to describe these detention centers but others, notably Japanese-Americans who were sent as families to camps during WWII, have agreed. 

Interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!, psychotherapist Satsuki Ina, who was born in an internment camp in California, had this to say:

the reality that this is happening again is causing many of us to recognize that this is an injustice that is discussed in the same way...that we were a threat to national security, that we were an unassimilable race of people, that we were a threat to the economy of the United State... 
Captivity trauma is known to have lifelong effects on children growing up, and results in depression, and anxiety, and post-traumatic stress (PTSD).

Some of Patricia Okoumou's posts sound like she has PTSD, too. She can't sleep for worrying about children in cages. A lot of us are feeling that way, and we can't figure out what to do about the evils perpetrated by our government, with our money, allegedly in our name.

So we'll go to the streets. Here are events coming up in Maine, one organized by a young mom who was arrested with me protesting the Pentagon's climate crimes at contractor General Dynamics last week. 

Hi lovely family, friends, community members and hopefully beyond.

I've been feeling a mix of emotions especially sadness as I learn each day about the escalation of horrific and dehumanizing treatment of people, notably children in "detention" aka torture camps. I feel powerless, relying on my elected officials to take my calls seriously and do something as quickly as needs to be done. What more can I do way up here in Maine to make this stop fast!

I think about the pain I would feel if my two-year-old was taken from me. Who will comfort him when he cries? Who will change his diapers and keep him clean? Who will protect him from those who harm? I'm crying again now thinking about what the answer is for these detained kids. I am feeling a strong need to take the time to process this tragedy of dehumanization.

WHAT IF WE ALL JUST STOPPED TOGETHER and put our collective energy towards these children and their families?

Here is what I propose: at 11:00am, JUNE 28 we all just STOP. Maybe for an hour, maybe for half and hour, maybe for 10 minutes if you would otherwise get fired. Maybe we can join in common spaces (Congress Square Park, our places of work, our parks) or maybe just be alone. Can we all just stop together and feel this? Can we cry together? Can we say, "yes this is really happening" and feel it? Maybe we can collectively hold the a banner above our heads (the original hashtag) that reads, "REUNIFY DETAINED KIDS NOW". We will be in Monument Square if anyone wants to join us there.

Then I propose we all COLLECTIVELY GIVE. Get out an actual piece of paper and pen/pencil, and write something for these kids (or parents). Maybe a poem, short story, prayer, hope for them, etc. You can share it or not but whatever it is, put some loving energy into it. I'm not sure what we can do with all these papers. Any ideas? Maybe we burn them and send all of that love into the sky?

And finally, do a BRAINSTORM about what you/your community can do. Maybe it's calling elected officials (again). Maybe you work for a newspaper and you can print this story front and center everyday? Maybe you have sweet art skills and can make something cool that would generate attention. I honestly don't know but would feel better thinking about it with more people. How can we keep our attention locked on reuniting these children as quickly as possible and ensuring their and their families' safety?

Thanks to all who join me this Friday, June 28 at 11:00a.
Ashley and Dan

PS this picture is of me and my sister swinging my two-year-old who is laughing and having the childhood EVERY kid should have.

Finally, here's a link to events all over North America being coordinated for Friday, July 12. There are currently three listed for Maine: Lewiston, Westbrook (next to Portland) and Presque Isle. And a fourth, in Augusta, has an event listed on Facebook.

And here's a link to a Facebook event for a weekly vigil in Waterville, Maine. Thanks Mary Dunn for organizing this.

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