Calls for End to State Terrorism
By Rocky Neptun
Next March will mark the 57th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death. Branded an illegal alien of the occupied Netherlands because she was Jewish; she and her young friends had to hide in fear of the black-shirted fiends known as the Protective Squad (Schutzstaffel) or SS as it was commonly called.
Roaming through neighborhoods they were the enforcers of ethnic purification. Their unspeakable atrocities against human beings in the name of the law still lacerate our sense of humanity. And while the ends of their sickening purposes still surface occasionally in places like the Sudan, Rwanda and Bosnia; their means continue to be used as weapons against targeted peoples like today’s Department of Homeland Security thugs.
In Los Angeles, a young girl, 15 years of age (the same as Anne Frank when she died in the camps from typhus), is knocked to the floor, terrorized and forever scarred by fear as Federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents, dressed in black, wearing helmets of steel and thick plastic, their bodies encased in leather and metal, looking like robo cops, bust in the door of her home, brandishing shotguns and automatic weapons.
Bleeding, sobbing hysterically, (like millions of Jewish children in the dark times, when the world ignored the government’s technique of national law enforcement); she watches as her father is beaten to the ground, hand-cuffed and shoved through the front-door. Her mother, screaming, crying, is tackled by big men, drug by her hair as she struggles to get near her horror stricken daughter.
Child services takes her into “custody;” her parents are off to be concentrated in camps. For the crime of attempting to secure a decent life for their daughter; they will be branded as criminals against the state, threats to “the fatherland’s (homeland) security,” and deported.
In Grand Island, Nebraska, a single-mother, working at the Swift packing plant, in obvious pain from the plastic cuffs, screams to the crowd as she is pushed toward waiting ICE police buses with whited-out windows, for someone to please pick up her daughter from school. Meanwhile, a school bus driver, later that day, has to drop two toddlers off at a church because their parents were seized and failed to pick them up at the bus stop.
‘Stop the ICE Raids’ Movement Develops in San Diego
As federal troops intensify their attacks on migrant families, including the largest Gestapo type raid on a workplace in San Diego County history with over 50 armed agents participating October 14th, in an industrial section in Otay Mesa, near the border with Mexico, community groups, church organizations and individuals are organizing a bloc of citizens of conscience who are calling for an end to “state sanctioned terrorism.”
Forty-one workers were seized at the S&S Bakery, more than half its employees. Whole families were snatched in subsequent home invasions. At a November 3rd community forum, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, three young Latina students tearfully recounted how their parents were taken and the effect on their families. Some employees had worked at the bakery for 9 years and their children are legal citizens who must now face life without financial support.
Also supporting the forum, where workers and family members testified to their plight was the San Diego Raza Rights Coalition who sponsored the dialogue “to demonstrate our solidarity with the families and to deepen our understanding of the government’s strategy that represses workers right to work.” The theme of the forum was “working is not a crime, it is a right.” Bags and boxes of groceries, diapers and paper goods were collected at the meeting; while the AFSC calls on the community at-large to continue to donate food and money to these beleaguered families.
Meanwhile, over 300 San Diegans joined a rally in support of immigrant families in City Heights November 5th. Two-thirds of those protesting were young people and half of those were teenagers, revealing how these targeted raids are radicalizing a whole generation of Latinos.
Most of the youthful speakers, bellowing through a mega-phone, not only called for the ICE raids to stop but called for amnesty. Maria Ayala, of San Diego Pro People Youth, announced that the rally in City Heights was ironic, “this gentrified community used to be our community.” A member of the Filipina organization, Affirm, announced that “if any one is good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay here.” Enrique de la Cruz, of the San Diego Zapatista Collectivo, spoke of the need to change the entire economic model, “for a few people to be rich, a whole lot of us have to be poor.” Calling the workplace invasions “racist raids,” members of San Diego State’s Students for Solidarity with Palestine, spoke in solidarity those victimized the U.S.’s war on immigrants. Others student groups called for an immediate moratorium on all raids, deportations, incarcerations and the separation of families.
Justin Akers, a professor at San Diego City College, a community forum several months ago outlined the history of the United States’ “war on immigrant workers.” He spoke of the growing public movement to expose the terrorism occurring in local communities which has “impacted thousands of lives, broken families and literally shut down entire towns.”
While he mentioned the “deep roots of anti-Mexican racism,” Akers suggested that the police state persecution of immigrants was more about “a means of controlling people.” He pointed out that immigrant workers are the fastest growing segment of union efforts in the country and that most ICE raids have occurred at factories and packing facilities that are in the process of being unionized. Five of the six Swift & Company meat packing plants raided, netting over 1,300 workers, were represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The sixth was in the process of becoming unionized.
While the use of Federal troops for union busting goes back to the 19th Century in the U.S. it has never occurred on such a scale or as part of an over-all specific strategy against a minority group by powerful interests. Across the board from the militarized nature of law enforcement to the courts; an actual conspiracy against labor exists, not just migrant workers. Injunctions against the raids are routinely turned down, while union lawyers are denied access to arrested workers.
Corporate oligarchs fear a growing Latino union movement, with their cultural strengths of familial and community bonds, its solid sense of solidarity: influencing large, staid, self-interest driven unions. And, as New America Media associate editor, David Bacon, points out, these brutal raids and persecutions in immigrant communities have one fundamental political purpose to create a vast exploitable, cheap labor pool of close to 600,000 “guest workers.”
Beginning in 1942, a similar program recruited temporary immigrants who were exploited, cheated and deported if they tried to organize a union, go on strike or advocate for decent wages or living conditions. Like China’s rural slave labor, transported to the city to live in squalid conditions and work in dangerous environments, the “Bracero” program allowed employers to drive down wages against U.S. workers, and was finally ended in 1964 after Ceasar Chavez and other Latino organizers fought it.
As researchers for Project Censored announced in a 2008 study, “the demand for undocumentated labor in the US economy is structural.” With the de-unionization of the workplace and heavy emphasis on subcontracting, which shields large employers against worker protections and responsibilities, immigrant workers have become a necessary component of US competitiveness in a world market.
Carlos Pelayo, a local organizer for the United Domestic Workers of America, spoke of the efforts of corporate employers to create a two-tier caste system, where millions of people are denied decent wages, social benefits and fundamental rights. He urged community residents to begin thinking beyond “ethnicity” to a general worker consciousness.
Another community meeting is scheduled November 16th to support the rights of immigrants. Under the banner of “stop the raids and repression in our communities” the City Heights gathering will be at the Activist Center, 4246 Wightman St. The human rights get together will focus on three areas. (1) Education and information – organizing “know your rights” events in City heights and other places ICE regularly harass immigrants. (2) Community defense – the formation of a local defense committee to be called the Comites de Defensa del Barrio in City Heights and (3) to discuss the organizational structure of Puente Arizona and their people’s assemblies and defense committees.
Now that the “war on terror” has become a “war on immigrants” all people of conscience need to step forward and support amnesty. Herding people into concentration camps, separating and destroying families, shipping people off to countries they have never known or speak the language, making the workplace a place of fear and intrigue, these are issues the family and friends of Anne Frank faced during the nightmare of fascism, lets not let it happen in the United States or our children will be stained by our lack of moral authority and compassion.