On Saturday March 21, around 3:30 PM, community members formed a line of cars and circled the detention center for migrant children operated by Heartland Alliance at 3500 S Giles Ave in Chicago, honking horns and sending messages of solidarity to the children detained inside, and demanding their immediate liberation and reunification. Cars were decorated with signs of solidarity facing the facility, and signs explaining the demands of the action facing the other side. The action coincides with a call-in campaign that is ongoing and an open letter explaining how and why immediate reunification is possible, the detention of children is unnecessary and violent and why, in times of pandemic, detention puts children's lives at even greater risk. Chicago Police intervened to disband the car caravan and threatened arrest for inciting a riot, disrupting the peace and obstructing traffic. Two tickets were issued to one driver. Once forced to pull over, activists parked their cars and walked around the facility holding signs and chanting for the youth inside the facility. The entire rally was organized and conducted while maintaining protocols for preventing the spread of the COVID virus.
"Essential social services" are permitted by the Illinois Shelter in Place and can be successfully practiced with physical distancing and proactive sanitation measures. Community organizing continues to be desperately needed in times of crisis. It is the basis for building practices of mutual aid on which some of the communities most at risk during the pandemic depend: impoverished and marginalized folks; elders and people with disabilities; unhoused communities; healthcare workers; low income tenants and workers, as well as incarcerated people. "Social services" in the context of a prison nation facing a pandemic requires decarceration, an end to policing and border enforcement and a dramatic redirection of those resources towards care, transformative justice and community self-determination. Organizing for this shift is vital, but governing authorities will not do it. This shift is being built from below and to the left, and it is happening now.
Walking in protest and solidarity is NOT endangering others or working against the greater social good -- it is merely exposing that the US government's notion of social good is historically based on a logic of differential valuation that systematically targets specific communities and lives as surplus, criminal, disposable or a risk. Our vision of "social services" requires urgently redefining how the social is organized. "Social services" is the work of changing the dominant response from calls to "social distancing" to practices of physical distance, mutual aid and social solidarity that insist on care, shelter and liberation for all. The crisis is political as well as biological -- it is an unnatural disaster as well as a virus. Health care workers, grocery store workers, mutual aid networks and organized communities in struggle are not the risk, we are the answer.
We know incarcerated people are resisting and fighting for their survival and we are building the structures of that fight on the outside. Migrant children held in lock-ups, and families whose children have been disappeared from them, are resisting in myriad ways, demonstrating that detention is not the shelter they seek, and incarceration is not for their protection. Please see and co-sign our OPEN LETTER demanding the immediate release of child detainees and reunification with families.
Thank you for supporting the community open letter sent to Angela Glover Blackwell as part of collective resistance to Heartland Alliance’s annual gala and their continued detention of migrant children. Over 25 community groups and dozens of individuals signed on to this open letter asking that Angela Glover Blackwell, a prominent abolitionist at the think-tank PolicyLink, withdraw from speaking at Heartland’s November 20th gala and make a public statement denouncing their detention of migrant children.
We received an email notification from a staff person at PolicyLink that Angela Glover Blackwell withdrew from speaking at the Heartland Annual Gala on November 20th as a result of our open letter. We were glad to hear of this decision, but we continued to ask that her position be made clear publicly via her rather formidable media/social media reach. We reminded her of the call to action in our open letter - “We urge you to release a public statement and withdraw from speaking at Heartland’s fundraiser. This is a public issue and you are a public figure. Your course of action will shape public discourse about child detention as well as your standing within the community on this issue.” Angela Glover Blackwell was eventually removed from Heartland’s media promotion of the gala, but we have still seen no public statement from her.
While we are disappointed that she has not yet publicly opposed Heartland, we affirm the course of action that our communities chose -- both the choice to reach out to an influential person such as Ms. Glover Blackwell, but also the choice to do so publicly as an open letter, making the entire process a part of the public reckoning over Heartland’s facilities and migrant child detention in general. We affirm that doing this collectively and in the public sphere advances our cause far more than private negotiation, and count it as a success that our tactics pressured Ms. Glover Blackwell to withdraw from the gala.
We would like to extend an open invitation to all of the groups and individuals who came together for this process. Let’s continue fighting together! Would you co-host a teach-in in your neighborhood/organization about migrant child detention in Chicago? Do you have an idea for an action or event that explores the intersections of mass incarceration, juvenile injustice, the foster care system, migrant child detention and climate justice? Can we devise more ways to collaborate on abolitionist organizing in Chicago? Would you co-host an action against the child detention centers in your neighborhoods? Can you support our efforts to build relationships in neighborhoods where these facilities are located: Bronzeville, Englewood, Beverly, Rogers Park, Des Plaines, Bartlett? Would you like to attend our next actions or an organizing meeting? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Little Village Solidarity Network through our Facebook page. We have meetings every Sunday evening and are also open to intentional collaborations and/or supporting other autonomous groups and their actions.
We are currently pushing to make December a month of regular singing outside of the lock-ups. This goal is informed by our recent contact with a young man named José who was incarcerated in a Roger's Park facility and witnessed community members singing and chanting outside. As a resistor inside, he was inspired by the solidarity and vowed to find and contact the group who organized the sing-in to give testimony and collaborate further. (You can find some of his recent testimony, recorded by LVSN members, on this link.) Stay tuned on Facebook or reach out via email to join in the singing efforts. Let’s take this opportunity to strengthen our solidarity and continue fighting to end detention of migrant children and all forms of incarceration and borders everywhere. Free them all!
LITTLE VILLAGE SOLIDARITY NETWORK/RED DE SOLIDARIDAD DE LA VILLITA
ROGERS PARK SOLIDARITY NETWORK
FREE HEARTLAND KIDS CAMPAIGN
RISING TIDE CHICAGO
Little Village Solidarity Network frequently receives the question - if I shouldn't support Heartland Alliance or NIJC with my donations, who should I support? For this Giving Tuesday, we compiled a list of alternatives that we suggest for those who want to support migrants with money and solidarity.
These are just some of the many beautiful projects out there to support. We chose these orgs either because we believe in the teams behind them or because many of these groups are serving communities that have no larger support networks in place. In some instances the group on this list is the only resource for a specific region or community. Most of the groups on this list are autonomous aid groups and do not have a tax exempt status. However, if you need to donate to a 501(c)3 please reach out to us because many of these groups do have fiscal sponsors through which you can donate and still fund their awesome work.
Chicago Immigrant Transit Assistance greets asylum seekers at Greyhound station in Chicago and offers essential emergency assistance and support. They offer a much needed rest and friendly reception for migrants just leaving the detention machine. They also take donations of goods or transit cards.
Follow them: Facebook.com/CITAChicago
Donate on their website: www.citachicago.org
Alianza Migrante in Juarez
Continuum of the work Food Not Walls/Casa Carmelita used to do in El Paso. Small team of folks travel into Juarez to support albergues there with donations of supplies & food.
Follow them on Instagram: @Alianza_Migrante
Donate on Venmo: @AlianzaMigrante
The Carrizo/ Comecrudo Tribe
The Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe is an active resistor of the expansion of a border wall and protector of indigenous sacred sites. They provide education on environmental impact and devastation of people, animals and the environment. Their first resistance camp and village is the Yalui village, which expands both sides of the Mexican-American border. Their Somi Se'k Village base camp is a support and training camp for Yalui and future camps.
Follow their website: www.carrizocomecrudotribeoftexas.org
Donate on the Yalui Village website: www.carrizocomecrudodonation.com
Hecate Society is a queer & femme led group that functions as emergency response for migrants on the ground in Tijuana and in detention centers across the US. Hecate is a news organization and humanitarian aid group and has helped facilitate many of the other projects on this list through starter funds, donations, food, commissary support, sponsor placement, and support through the asylum process. Superstars!
Follow through their website: www.HecateSociety.org
Through Instagram or Facebook: @Hecate Society
Donate on GoFundMe:
They are also raising funds for this specific Honduran couple, Alexis & Javier: www.gofundme.com/support-gay-honduran-couple-resettling-in-usa
DONATION OF GOODS
Most of the organizations on this list will also accept in-kind donations of goods, and here are some frequent asks: