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Diversity of Tactics, Movement Building and the campaign to End the ICE contract with Kent County

November 13, 2018

As we reported, last Thursday, representatives from the ACLU and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) presented both legal and personal reasons why Kent County officials should take a stand and end their contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

There were several members of Movimiento Cosecha GR, which spoke during public comment, like they have for months, since the campaign to end the contract began in June. The first person to speak from the ACLU/MIRC was a member of the affected community and followed the same type of message that Cosecha GR members have used…….she spoke about the actual harm being done to her family members by ICE violence.

The story from this woman was powerful and it was important that the lawyers from the ACLU and MIRC began with this testimony, which continued to center the voices and lived experiences of the immigrant community.

A lawyer from MIRC spoke next and provided important legal arguments for why Kent County did NOT need to comply or cooperate with ICE agents in Kent County, which you can read about in more detail at this link

The closing comments were made by a lawyer from the ACLU, who also made some legal arguments. However, what Miriam Aukerman (ACLU) made clear in her comments that what was important is that the County needed to act now, especially since the community has been asking them to end the contract since June. Aukerman made it clear that it is unconscionable that the County has failed to act after the affected community has been using their voices and sharing their lived experiences. The ACLU lawyer made it clear that the County needed to introduce and pass a resolution to demand that the Kent County Sheriff end their contract with ICE.

What the lawyers had to say were nothing but complementary to what Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE have been saying for months. In fact, even though County Administrators and County Commissioners have viewed the End the Contract efforts with distain, primarily because of the tactics that have been used, the ACLU/MIRC call to End the Contract should be viewed as the an affirmation of what has happened over the past 5 months.

In addition, the ACLU/MIRC call for an End to the Contract also spoke to the diversity of tactics that are necessary in movement building. While the county officials may dislike the disruptive tactics, what Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE organizing effort has demonstrated is that this insurgent social movement (movement from below) is consistent with previous movements, like the Civil Rights Movement.

The Civil Rights Movement used education, legal means and a whole lot of direct action to force politicians to adopt policies that were based on equality and freedom. The Civil Rights Movement, like all social movements, engaged in direct action tactics that disrupted “business as usual” social norms. Whether that meant a sit in, boycotting a business, shutting down street traffic or disrupting bureaucratic proceedings that the public has no say in and is designed to protect systems of power and privilege, the tactics that have been employed by Movimiento Cosecha GR, GR Rapids Response to ICE, the ACLU and MIRC are all necessary in the fight to resist ICE violence in Kent County.

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