Barry's Reflections on the 8/13 #CloseTheCamps Action

Rally to End Dearborn Police Cooperation with ICE 8 13 19

Last night I attended the rally to end Dearborn police cooperation with ICE.  It was diverse racially, ethnically, religiously. Muslim leaders spoke prayers in Arabic, Rabbis spoke some in Hebrew.  Some women wore hijabs, some men and women wore tallit and kepas. But the vast majority wore some black garment, responded to speakers’ invitations to chant or shout in response, and shouted “Shame” when the speaker explained inhumane practices. 

The program featured about a dozen speakers who explained, exhorted, chanted, lamented and called for responses from the crowd of about 200.   Among them were about 15 DJJniks. The assembled opposed deportations, lock-ups, cages, arrests, and incarceration of immigrants. Some told heart-wrenching stories about those they knew who were so unjustly treated by our government’s agents, usually ending in deportation.  One African-American daughter told of her father who immigrated from Africa only to be deported. Congressman Levin bemoaned the story of a constituent who was sent to Iraq, where he’d never lived, only to die.  


Detroit Jews for Justice, Bend the Arc and the Council of American-Islamic Relations sponsored and orchestrated the event.  Some of their members brought signs that proclaimed “Close the Camps,” other called for justice and “Never Again.” The one that caught my eye reminded us “And then they came for me!”  

Among the final speakers were Congress-people Rashida Tliab, Debbie Dingell and Andy Levin.  Levin referred to them as “just a Christian girl, a Muslim girl and a Jewish boy from the streets of Detroit.”  Their presence, their words, their demeanor spoke so much about everyone’s devotion to justice and the plight of immigrants coming to the US today.

It was also a night full of ironies.  Three come to mind. The Dearborn police chief, Ron Haddad, is seen by many in the progressive community as somewhat “enlightened,” attuned to racial and ethnic cultural differences and civil liberties.  However, in the case of detaining immigrants for ICE, the department has lost its way, especially in a community filled with Muslim immigrants. Second, I couldn’t help thinking about the racist, anti-semitic history of Dearborn and its mayor Orville Hubbard, as so many Jews, Muslims and people of color gathered and spoke forcefully about injustice next to the police station. Finally, there were the sight and sounds of Rep. Rashida Tliab, controversial Palestinian-American congresswoman, reading an explanation of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashonah!

The evening was cloudy, and it sprinkled briefly.  But the rally made me feel hopeful. I had not been in such a crowd and setting before.  We were not only protesting inhumane practices. I’d been there before. It was the fact that attendees were there protesting, together, while deliberately expressing their racial, ethnic, religious affiliations.  This captured me. At least for this brief moment.

The event ended with four blasts of a shofar.


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