Vigil and civil disobedience at Broadview Detention Center. Top: More than 300 protesters gather at a prayer vigil Monday evening, April 26. JCUA’s familiar blue-and-white signs (“Social Justice: If Not Now, When?”) are prominent. Bottom: Protesters occupy the street in front of the detention center, facing a van carrying deportees (not seen in photo) as the news media and Broadview police watch. Bottom right: JCUA’s Jane Ramsey and Rabbi Joshua Salter are among the 24 protesters who were arrested.
Arrested: A Message from Jane Ramsey
Monday evening (April 26) and Tuesday morning (April 27), JCUA members, members of our Board of Directors, and staff joined more than 300 others from diverse communities in a vigil at the Broadview Detention Center protesting the alarmingly large increase in the numbers of people being deported from our country at the same time that the Obama administration and others acknowledge that the immigration system is broken.
As part of this overall protest, JCUA’s Advocacy Director, Tom Walsh, and I engaged in an act of civil disobedience that resulted in our being arrested along with 22 others from diverse faith and community groups.
The photos above document my arrest and that of Rabbi Joshua Salter an organizer at the Southwest Organizing Project and associate rabbi of Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Congregation on Chicago’s South Side.
(By the way, the Broadview police were very cordial and we all were released within a short while. We have a court appearance next month on charges of disorderly conduct.)
Why did we choose to follow this path?
We are witnessing now a surge in deportations even while the Obama administration acknowledges the immigration system is broken. In addition, the passage of the horrific Arizona law, SB 1070, marks a dangerous new reality where racial profiling to identify undocumented residents and civil liberties’ violations have been codified into law.
In addition to intense Chicago media coverage, the national media — such as this article in the L.A. Times — used the Broadview action to illustrate the nation’s growing interest — even outrage — on the immigration issue.
Some years ago while protesting the system of Apartheid in front of the South African consulate I was introduced to the international law of necessity that asserts that breaking the law is justified if it averts a greater harm that would otherwise occur.
In 1984, eight of us were found not guilty by a jury after being charged with trespassing at the South African consulate. During our trial, our witnesses testified to the egregious actions taken by the South African government under the guise of the Apartheid laws. Our “trespass” was deemed necessary by the almost all-white jury that had previously been unaware of the situation and thus became educated, along with the public, over the course of the trial.
This week, by protesting in front of the Broadview Detention Center, engaging in “disorderly conduct by blocking the street” we collectively hope and believe that our actions will help bring attention to the egregious harm being caused to many by an unjust immigration system.
It is with great thought that any of us engage in civil disobedience to correct a greater harm. In the spirit of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we prayed with our feet to help bring about a resolution now to this harsh, inequitable and broken system.
Jane Ramsey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Executive Director, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs