Brooklyn, NY – Grassroots activists demonstrating outside Senator Chuck Schumer’s Prospect Park West apartment building on Tuesday night said the American Labor Movement has the power to “move mountains” and bring about a swift end to the abuse of children being held inside detention centers along the nation’s southern border.
“Labor’s been the backbone of our country and when they collectivize they move mountains,” Indivisible Nation BK’s Lisa Raymond-Tolan told LaborPress this week. “So, if they get together as a group to say something is appalling, they can shut everything down.”
Over the last eight months, six migrant children — including one as young as 22-months-old — are known to have died after being taken into US Immigration custody.
Last Wednesday, some 500 wayfair.com workers in Boston walked off the job after learning their bosses had sold $200,000 worth of mattresses and bunk beds to BCFS — a non-profit organization operating detention centers near the U.S. border with Mexico.
On Tuesday night, more than 200 protesters assembled across the street from Schumer’s tony Prospect Park West apartment building and gave voice to some of the written testimonials asylum-seeking families being held in U.S. custody have given to lawyers working with the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
“The day after we arrived, my baby began vomiting and having diarrhea,” one 16-year-old mother reported.”I asked to see a doctor and they did not take us. I asked again the next day and the guard said she doesn’t have the face of a sick baby — she doesn’t need to see a doctor.”
A pregnant 17-year-old described sadistic U.S. border guards who systematically remove blankets and mattresses from migrant children.
“I was given a blanket and a mattress,” the teen mom testified. “But then at 3 a.m., the guards took the blanket and mattress. My baby was left sleeping on the floor. In fact, almost every night, the guards wake us up at 3 a.m. and take away our sleeping mattresses and blankets. They leave babies, even little babies of two- and three-months sleeping on the cold floor. For me, because I am so pregnant, sleeping on the floor is very painful on my back and hips. I think the guards act this way to punish us.”
Still another teenage mom reported her family’s horrific experiences in U.S. custody this way: “Three days ago, my baby soiled his clothes. I had no place to wash the clothes. So, I could not put them back on my baby because when he went to the bathroom his poop came out of his diaper and all over his clothing. Since then, my baby of only three-months has only been wearing a small little jacket made out of a T-shirt material — I have nothing else for my son to wear. I have been told they do not have any clothes here at this place.”
One of Tuesday night’s demonstrators identifying herself as a veteran trauma nurse with the US Army said, “This is the same thing that happened in the 1930s — this is fascism.”
Outraged demonstrators charged both Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can “do more to close the camps” and demanded that “not one more dollar” be spent on family detention centers.
“This administration’s constant attacks on innocent children and refugee families are unacceptable,” they said. “And our leaders in Congress cannot conduct business as usual. Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi let Congress go home for recess without any accountability for officials at DHS for any progress in closing the camps at the border… we are all here to tell them to do their jobs as leaders to fight Trump’s racist fear mongering and protect asylum seekers.”
Indivisible Nation BK will be among the many groups and organizations taking part in a mass protest held at Foley Square on July 12, demanding the closure of what are being called “concentration camps” at the U.S./Mexico border. The Friday demonstration is set to coincide with similar protests held nationwide the same day.