Andrew here: I’m not going to elaborate here on how, why, or even if I participated in the events of the last week for a variety of reasons.
We’ve previously carried stories covering the FANG Collective and their work opposing the police-incarceration-deportation industrial complex in Southern New England. If a picture speaks a thousand words, these can be quite fairly and honestly be described as approaching the epic status of a Tolstoy or Garcia Márquez.
Read Also: FANG Protests Earlier This Year
This week of actions challenged the various county sheriffs in Massachusetts participating in the 287g program, including Joseph McDonald and Thomas Hodgson, who is especially disgusting. As the sheriff of Bristol County, Hodgson has overseen a jail known for astronomical suicide rates, infestation of the domiciles by pestilence, denial of inmate healthcare accommodations, and other abuses breaking both American and international law.
I’ll just syndicate the various media materials released by the FANG Collective (click here to see if your community participates in this rotten program). Despite my overall reticence, I don’t think these three reflections are out of bounds.
First, on a visceral level mirroring a reflex, I can say these activists have the most guts I’ve ever encountered. This is a group of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+-led young people who did something more extraordinary over the last six days than anything on television. Were there Democratic Party Primary Debates last week? More importantly, why should I care? The changes that we need to overcome the insanity of the Trump presidency are going to be fought for in the streets. These are the people who are going and throwing themselves into the jaws of the police state head first in the name of the kind of solidarity and humanism that can only be described as revolutionary. A world operating on those notions would be one that unmakes the entire wretched edifice of racial capitalism’s degradation of BIPOC lives and maintenance of white supremacy. If you have the ability to part with a few dollars to support their efforts, trust me when I say it is money well spent.
Second, I want to just call attention to something from Tuesday June 25th. At one point, when FANG activists were confronting a policeman’s dinner over their deportation policies, the police yelled after departing activists “Would you let an immigrant into you’re house?”
When I was a student in a Catholic parochial grade school, one of the major stories that we referenced quite often was the Good Samaritan, about the unexpected, unwarranted kindness of a stigmatized immigrant. The fact Trumpism as a political current has negated that shred of basic decency demonstrates the absolute moral bankruptcy of the carceral state. Of course James Baldwin, who knew a few things about the Bible, brilliantly said “I do not claim that everyone in prison here is innocent, but I do claim that the law, as it operates, is guilty, and that the prisoners, therefore, are all unjustly imprisoned.” What this deplorable cop’s query shows is that the Trumpian nativism, xenophobia, and white nationalism are going to be with us long after 2020 and that the battle against it goes far deeper than a ballot.
Third, I want to share an insight from Paul Buhle, longtime historian of the American Left, and his magisterial biography of the great C.L.R. James, the Trinidadian revolutionary and author whose long, storied career included a 15 year sojourn in America from 1938-1953. James was an astonishing figure but also somewhat sheltered from the brutality of American racism when he arrived on these shores. As such, his understanding of organizing and base building within the American Left was limited for some time. Buhle writes:
For this one moment, he attained the multiplication factor of enduring radical comradeship at the very centre of advanced capitalism… He has believed, ever since, that had he stayed, he would have been able to act with considerable influence upon coming American events (such as Black Power) which reshaped world revolutionary forces. That very influence, ironically, would have been incongruous to the movement he was forced to abandon in America. He later reached across the decades toward the New Left, but mostly with assumptions and language that made his message difficult for ordinary radical youngsters to imbibe. He would need to be rediscovered. More than James realized, the unresolvable paradox of intellectual success in apparent political failure and political failure in apparent theoretical success rested upon the general status of the American Left. That Left had always been, in its more self-consciously Marxist elements, an immigrant movement – first- and second-generation – obscure to the wider public. [Emphasis added]
That insight remains extremely useful for comprehending the complex contradictions today under the Trump presidency. Many dogmatic Leftists and so-called whites probably are left to wonder why, in the face of white nationalist brutality from the Republicans and tacit collaboration from the Democrats, there has yet to materialize a viable project existing outside the confines of the duopoly a political project that articulates a viable socialist praxis. Perhaps the answer is because, as Buhle points out, that project is to be found within the immigrant movement that is revolting against ICE.
In other words, it is my argument, if I might be so bold, that people looking for guidance here should take a cue from what FANG is doing and follow suit.
287(g) agreements with ICE allow law enforcement agencies to question people about their immigration status, detain people on immigration charges and carry out the duty of ICE officers. Currently, 80 law enforcement agencies in 21 states have 287(g) agreements with ICE. Every year thousands of people are detained and deported by ICE through the 287(g) program.
On June 30th, 2019 all 287(g) agreements across the country will expire.
Law enforcement agencies will have to renew their agreements and sign a new memorandum of understanding with ICE to continue to participate in the program.
But earlier this month, ICE announced the creation of the Warrant Service Officer program, an extension of the 287(g) program geared towards rural law enforcement agencies and agencies that do not have the resources to fully participate in 287(g). Under this new program, participating agencies can arrest and detain people who have been issued warrants by ICE. The program also exempts cooperating law enforcement agencies from any local or state measures to limit ICE, such as sanctuary city policies. Several Sheriff Departments and other law enforcement agencies have already signed on to the program.
With a date set for the expiration of all 287(g) agreements, and with ICE trying to expand the program, now is the time to pressure counties and law enforcement agencies to end their partnerships with ICE, and to raise the alarm about the Warrant Service Officer program.
From June 23-29th The FANG Collective is calling for a Week of Action to #End287g and Shut Down ICE.