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Movimiento Cosecha GR continues to demonstrate their courage, commitment and creativity around immigration justice in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis

May 2, 2020

Yesterday, nearly 100 vehicles were part of a “caravan for dignity,” that brought attention to critical issues facings the undocumented immigrant community in Grand Rapids.

This was the fourth consecutive year that Movimiento Cosecha GR has organized a May 1st action to demand dignity, respect and permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.

It was difficult to say exactly how many people were part of the action yesterday, since most people were in cars and practicing social distancing. There were crowd safety people on foot and on bicycle, but there would easily have been over 100 people, since most of the vehicles I saw had multiple people inside. The amount of people that took a public stand in the face of the COVID-19 crisis was impressive, but unfortunately both WOOD TV 8 and WZZM 13 stated that there were “dozens of protesters.” Just looking at some of the images that came from yesterday’s action, with long lines of vehicles, confirms that it was more than dozens of protesters.

Movimiento Cosecha GR was once again demanding driver’s licenses for all, but they also emphasized the fact that immigrant workers are essential workers, particularly migrant workers. Migrant workers do the back breaking work in the fields that puts food on all of our tables, work that is so essential, that without them the food system would collapse. Another important point that Movimiento Cosecha GR made yesterday was that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US are not eligible for any of the COVID-19 relief funds coming from the federal government, thus causing even extra hardship for the immigrant families that are already terrorized by law enforcement.

The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) once again had an excessive amount of police presence during the non-violent immigrant-led caravan. There were police in marked cruisers, unmarked cars, on foot and on bicycles. In the pictures that MLive took of yesterday’s action, every time the GRPD was shown in the photos, the caption always read, “Members of the Grand Rapids Police Department discuss safety with protesters.” The notion that the GRPD was there for safety reasons is patently false. The GRPD has demonstrated over the part four years, that whenever there is a Movimiento Cosecha GR action, particularly a May 1st action, that they are NOT there for the safety of the immigrant community. The GRPD shows up in large numbers for the following reasons:

  • To intimidate and harass those involved in Movimiento Cosecha GR actions.
  • To engage in surveillance of the organizers and allies who are fighting for immigrant justice, which means collective data and images on certain activists.
  • To ensure that business as usual is maintained, which means the GRPD does not want any disruption or interruption of the functioning of commerce and government. Why else did the GRPD have large city-owned trucks and police cruisers blocking the on ramp and off ramps along US 131 and i96 yesterday?

Apart from what members of Movimiento Cosecha GR have witnessed over the last four years from the GRPD, there is also plenty of evidence to support the three reasons cited above, especially since we were able to obtain some 250 pages in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request late last year.

However, despite the efforts of the GRPD to limit the collective power of the immigrant justice movement in Grand Rapids, the movement once again demonstrated their resiliency, their commitment and their determination to win dignity, respect and permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. Hasta La Huelga!

 

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