ELIZABETH, NJ – Over 300 people, including immigrant families and constituents, held a rally at the Elizabeth detention center Tuesday evening following the arrests of 36 protesters from the group of “Never Again: Jews Against Ice Week of Action.”
The group compares conditions at Ice Detention centers to the Holocaust.
The Elizabeth facility located at 625 Evan Street is in the city's industrial zone, surrounded by trucking repair shops and large distribution centers. The building at first look is just like any other warehouse.
A closer look reveals caged windows and a heavy security presence. The sign reads Elizabeth Contract Detention Center Facility US Department of Homeland Security Newark Field Office. This is an ICE Detention Center where, inside, detainees await immigration court hearing and deportation, in some cases.
Organizers Move On, Make the Road NJ and the Black Panthers mobilized volunteers and supporters and asked protesters to join arms in solidarity for the 36 protesters that were arrested, and called for this and other detention centers to be closed and the detainees to be released. They also called for the government to stop the practice of dividing and separating families.
Approximately 20 members of the Elizabeth Police and Union County Sheriffs Officers were at the scene with barricades set up as the crowd grew.
One by one the speakers took to the megaphone giving testimony of the reason this protest was so important. Giving accounts of what they described as deplorable conditions and not fit for animals, and comparing these centers to concentration camps.
Black Panther member, Shaka Zulu received cheers and applause when he said, “Trump is not the only guilty principal” and “Obama is the number one deporter in all of history.” Claiming this was a government issue and leaders of both political parties are complicit.
Protesters came from all over the area and with many ethnicities represented. Jonathan Gibbson, a local resident who attended the protest said, “When we sit idly and allow our government to fund concentration camps on our shores, they do it in our name. If we do not stand up, if we do not act and demand change, then we are complicit in the torture and inhumane treatment of our brothers and sisters in humanity.”
Other rallies on Tuesday were held at the offices of Rep Donald Payne and Rep Tom Malinowski, where scores of immigrant families and constituents chanted “Close the Camps” and “Defund Hate.” The protestors read out the names of the children who have died in ICE and CBP custody over the past year.
According to Make the Road NJ, as President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security wage war on immigrant communities, New Jersey immigrant organizations and allies are calling on Congress to defund ICE and CBP in a series of actions over the July 4th congressional recess.