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End the Contract campaign returns to the County Commission meeting

August 23, 2018

This morning about 15 people went to the Kent County Commission meeting to once again demand an end to the contract the county has with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The group reading the following statement in English and in Spanish during the public comment and afterwards, everyone stood up and turned their backs to the commission, each wearing an End the Contract patch.

“It has been two months since we began our campaign to End the Contract that Kent County has with ICE.

During those two months we have come to every County Commission meeting to demand an end to the contract, we have circulated a petition with over 1,700 signatures, we have demonstrated during the 4th of July celebrations, we have visited to home of the Kent County Commission Chairman, we have held a rally at the Kent County Jail and we have meet with County administrators, commissioners and members of the Sheriff’s Department.

The answer we keep getting from county officials is that they will not end to contract with ICE. The Sheriff’s Department tell’s us that they are obligated by law to do so, yet numerous cities and county governments across the country have ended their contract with ICE. County Commissioners have told us that they do not have the power, which we completely disagree with.

In addition, county officials have completely dismissed the lived experience of the immigrant community, which is being terrorized by ICE. County officials have heard directly from the immigrant community about how they are being harmed by ICE violence and they have been presented with information about the weekly calls that GR Rapid Response receives from the immigrant community that has been targeted by ICE.

Therefore, let us make it clear to everyone, that we will continue this fight to end the contract, we will continue to speak out against the harm that ICE is doing in our community, we will continue to support the families that are being separated by ICE and we will continue to attend county commission meetings until the contract is terminated and the county is no longer complicit in the violence against the immigrant community that is being done by ICE.”

What was ironic is that there were several items on the Kent County Commission agenda devoted to adding cops to communities within the county, adding school cops in several communities and then discussing (in closed session) police labor council agreement. The commission could talk about more policing and contracts, but said nothing about the ICE contract.

During the second Public Comment period, Gema Lowe (with Movimiento Cosecha GR) spoke and demanded that the ICE contract be put on the next agenda, which is September 13. Gema was surrounded by other people who are part of the End the Contract campaign and after she spoke the entire group left.

The whole point of the tactic today was to make it clear that, even though the End the Contract campaign has asked to be put on the agenda over the last two months, the County Commissioners have repeated ignore them and to dismiss the stories that the immigrant community has been sharing directly or stories that have been told by allies every time the campaign has interacted with county officials.

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