"Free the People" Caravan Converges in Bakersfield
June 3, 2015
Last Saturday, a broad network converged at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility to demand and end to Mass Criminalization.
On May 30th, a multi-racial network of Undocumented Youth, Faith Leaders, Immigrant Rights Activists, and Community Members led by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration organized a “Free the People” caravan to Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield CA. This private prison owned and operated by the GEO Group is where immigrants like Christopher Henry, a Jamaican father of three, is being held in unconstitutional indefinite detention for profit.
The Caravan already succeeded in winning the release of Ghanaian asylum-seeker Kwesi Amuzu from detention at Mesa Verde. Read the Black Alliance blog for the full story behind the Caravan, and how a month of resistance led to victory and freedom for Kwesi. http://www.blackalliance.org/free-kwesi-baji-oak-leads-free-the-people-caravan-may-30/
"Kwesi’s case reminds us that Black Lives Matter in the Migrant Rights Movement. The successful campaign to release Kwesi signifies our power. When we resist, we win. And we will not stop until we are all free," writes BAJI organizer Devonté Jackson. "These issues are systemic and we are only beginning the work of strengthening the movement against Mass Criminalization. We celebrate Kwesi’s release as a short term victory in a longer term struggle."
The demands of the caravan are:
1. Immediate Freedom for Christopher Henry, a Jamaican father who is being held in immigrant detention indefinitely in Bakersfield. For 3 years, ICE has separated Christopher from his three daughters, mother, and sister, all of whom live in the U.S. 2. End the Detention Bed Quota, a Congressional guarantee to the prison industry that 34,000 immigrants will be held in detention each night. 3. End Mass Criminalization of our Communities, which is resulting in the loss of Black lives every day, and the incarceration of 2.5 million people in the United States 4. Divest from the Prison Industrial Complex, we must stop funneling our public resources to expanding mass incarceration and detention. We need to divest from the prison industry and reinvest in community.
Enlace joined the Caravan in recognition that Black Immigrant populations are targeted and terrorized by ICE and police at significantly high rates given their population size within the larger Immigrant community in the U.S. Black Immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are overrepresented in immigration detention and deportation proceedings at a rate 5 times their actual presence in the undocumented community.
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is a Steering Committee member of the Prison Divestment campaign.