Skip to content

NAACP holds rally in front of Bethany Christian Services offices, draws attention to the separation of immigrant families in detention

June 28, 2018

Yesterday, the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP came to Grand Rapids to hold a rally in front of the offices of Bethany Christian Services, because of the current crisis surrounding the separation of immigrant families in detention.

The event also included a spokesperson from the Grand Rapids NAACP, members of the UAW from Detroit, La SED and several pastors who addressed the crowd of roughly 100 who stood across from the offices of Bethany, holding signs.

There was some important points that were made during the rally. First, one of the pastors who spoke made the point that the children who were brought to Bethany and other agencies in the state, were brought in between 11pm and 7am, “during the cover of night. What is it that the government was hiding that caused them to transport these children in the middle of the night?”

The representative from La SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development) made the point that not only is separating children from their parents is an injustice, but keeping them together in detention facilities is also an injustice.

However, beyond these clear and relevant statements, the majority of the commentary used religious language and the quoting of Christian scriptures. None of the speakers offered any clear analysis of the current detention of immigrant families and the separation of children from their parents. There was no mention of the role and function of ICE and there was no critique of the role that Bethany Christian Services was playing in this process. In fact, those who organized the rally stated that they were not interested in “attacking” Bethany. So why hold the rally across from the agency?

While I respect the desire to respond the current immigration crisis, it is not enough to make proclamations without a strategy. There were several issues this writer had with what took place during this rally.

First, the voices and experiences of immigrants were not centered at this rally. The voices and experiences of immigrants should be central to the struggle to confront this injustice. Someone did reach out to Cosecha GR and asked if they could bring supporters, but when Cosecha GR asked to speak at the rally, they were told that there were already enough speakers.

Second, the signs that most people were holding up were provided by the organizers. One sign read, Stand Up for Families, call your Representative now. While I am not suggesting that people should not call their representatives, such an action will get the results that we want – meaning the end of immigrant families in detention. Another sign said, America is Better than this, children are not pawns. I agree with the sentiment that children are not pawns, but there is little historical evidence to suggest that America is better than the separation of children from their families. Whether it has been the forced separation of Indigenous children from their families and putting them in boarding schools, theft separation of black children from their parents during slavery and a more contemporary reality of the Prison Industrial Complex and how it separates children from their parents on a massive scale

Third, there were several references to letters from Democratic politicians, plus there were numerous democratic politicians and candidates present for this rally. And during the rally, the NAACP Grand Rapids chapter president only offered up the strategy of voting, with no other discussion of how we resist what is happening to immigrant families. There could have been mention of divesting from private prison corporations, which is where a growing number of immigrants are being sent. There was no discussion of municipalities declaring themselves Sanctuary Cities or religious institutions becoming sanctuaries for those fleeing government oppression. It is ironic, that right now in Detroit that is an action outside the ICE headquarters. There was also no mention of the action taking place today in Grand Rapids, where Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE are demanding an end to contract that ICE has with Kent County.

We all need to engage in expanding our radical imagination about what we can do to achieve collective liberation.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: