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ICE out of Kent County campaign disrupts ArtPrize event

September 20, 2018

Last night, about a dozen people who are working in collaboration with Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE, interrupted the opening ceremony of ArtPrize in Rosa Parks Circle.

Two teams held up banners on either side of the Rosa Parks stage and shouting statements about ICE operating in Kent County and separating families on a weekly basis. The group chose to disrupt ArtPrize in part because the Water Center on Ottawa NW is an ArtPrize venue and in that building there is a office of the Department of Homeland Security, specifically immigration investigations and potential ICE raids of workplaces. Part of the message last night was that ArtPrize is complicit because one of their venues houses a government agency that separates families.

ArtPrize had security people who were attempting to stop those drawing attention to ICE violence, at times pushing people, threatening them and even taking one of the banners. They did this all under the watchful eye of the GRPD, who did nothing to stop the ArtPrize security people from physically intimidating those demonstrating. The only thing the GRPD did was to tell those demonstrating that if they continued to use the bullhorns they would be arrested.

There were several people who came up to demonstrators clearly upset that their evening was disrupted. This was the point. Those demonstrating disrupted the ArtPrize opening ceremony for maybe 20 minutes, but immigrant families are having their lives disrupted by ICE repression, a disruption that can last for days, months, even years, especially of people end up being deported.

ArtPrize released a statement about using the public space in Rosa Parks circle, stating in part, “It’s our hope that we can share this public space with other members of the community in a respectful manner.” There is a certain irony about this statement, especially since the park is named after a member of the Black Freedom struggle that used a tactic of public disruption on a regular basis.

After the demonstration, people invited the public to come over to the east side of the Rosa Parks stage and symbolically dismantled a cardboard cage that resembling the cages that ICE was using to detain children near the US/Mexican border, something that angered thousands, maybe even millions in the country earlier this summer.

There were also people handing out flyers about what the action was about, along with information about an upcoming action on October 1st, which is a national day of action called No Business With ICE.

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