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Cosecha Michigan protest encampment – Day 1

September 14, 2022

Yesterday, Movimiento Cosecha Michigan began the first of their three day protest and encampment at the State Capital in Lansing.

It was one year ago today, that Movimiento Cosehca converged on the State Capital to continue their fight to win Driver’s Licenses for All in Michigan. As we wrote a year ago, just 15 minutes before the committee hearing on the proposed legislation to allow undocumented people to obtain a driver’s license, the Speaker of the House of Representatives canceled the hearing.

Since then there has been no movement on this legislation, which is very frustrating and insulting to the immigrant community. Having Driver’s Licenses is critical for people to feel safe to go about their daily lives – going to work, picking up children from school, going to the grocery store, etc. In addition, if undocumented immigrants are stopped by the police, it put them at serious risk of being reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

There was a scheduled session in the State House of Representatives today, which the Cosecha members decided to sit in on, but after 20 minutes there were only a handful of elected officials present, so the session was canceled. Undeterred, the immigration justice activists continued to engage in disruptive tactics with the Capital building.

Eventually the group moved outside, since they were going to prepare for an encampment on the State Capital property. However, upon exiting the building, Cosecha Michigan members came upon a rally that was being held by Christians who were also Trump supporters, less than 100 of them. Their rally encompassed information to vote no on Proposal 3, since they oppose abortion, plus they were talking about the “stolen election in 2020” and how public education is both indoctrination and a form of communism. However, the most outlandish thing that was said by one of the speakers, was that Sal Alinsky, author of the book Rules for Radicals, had dedicated his book to Lucifer. I shit you not.

Cosecha is accustomed to engaging in disruptive tactics, so when they left the Capital building, they began to chant along the perimeter of the Christian Right’s rally. The overwhelmingly white crowd did not take kindly to what Cosecha was doing, and tried to prevent Cosecha members from walking anywhere near their event, even going as far as to push some of the female Cosecha participants. This writer was doing crowd safety and was able to get between a white guy and one of the Cosecha organizers, who was now pushing against me. In fact, at one point they went inside to get Capital police to complain about Cosecha and use them to silence the immigrant justice advocates, as you can see here in this picture below.

The Christian Right rally then ended and Cosecha members began to set up for their encampment. Within minutes, the Capital police and an unidentified man who claimed to work for the Capital, told us that we could not set up tents or tables on Capital property. Cosecha organizers then decided to move the encampment to the public sidewalk in front of the State Capital, which is pretty deep and would have been enough space to set up on. However, the guy from the Capital and Capital police came out again and said that the sidewalk was also part of the Capital. When asked what they would do if we didn’t leave, they said they would have their people come out and haul away our tents and tables, then arrest us.

Unwilling to give up, Cosecha Michigan then set up an encampment in front of the Lansing City Hall, which is directly across the street from the Capital. As you can see from the picture below, we were able to set up tents, tables and canopies, just in case it would rain. The Lansing City PD then came, but did not kick us out and said that they would get back to us if the encampment was a problem. The Lansing City PD never called that first night, so we all sat around putting the finishing touches on the encampment, sharing wonderfully cooked food and telling stories. This was Day 1 of the Cosecha protest encampment. We’ll see what Day 2 brings, but Day 1 was filled with hope, passion and a deep commitment to the struggle. La Lucha Sigue y Sigue!

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