BAYAN New Jersey organizations Anakbayan North Jersey, Gabriela New Jersey, Anakbayan Rutgers, and Migrante New Jersey condemn the brutal state repression of solidarity protesters outside Bergen County Jail and rise in full solidarity with the detainees who are on hunger strike since November 13. In stride with our comrades in the Abolish ICE NY/NJ coalition, we amplify the call for the release of all detainees and the shutdown of immigration jails, as well as the end of forced migration and the U.S. imperialist system.
Over the weekend, police militarized and endangered protesters, barricaded daily marches, and when this did not dissuade protesters, pepper-sprayed and arrested people violently. Between Friday and Saturday, a total of ten protesters were arrested, including one person who attempted to run away and was grabbed forcefully by the neck. On Sunday, an activist was dragged out of her car and abducted by the police after the daily demonstration already ended. Protesters were charged with severe offenses such as obstruction of government function, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault on police officers, resisting arrest and even terrorism.
To justify this brazen state repression, Bergen County police held a shameful press conference on Sunday accusing the protesters of unruly behavior. Officials justified inaction on the demands of the prisoners by citing that the majority of those incarcerated have criminal charges. In reality, mass criminalization and incarceration are measures taken by the state to systematically oppress working-class Black and brown people, perpetuating an underclass in the United States. In this unceasing pandemic, detainees live in wretched conditions including uncontrolled rat infestations, unsanitary conditions, and overcrowded buildings that make physical distancing impossible. For New Jersey to not release incarcerated people is egregious without doubt, regardless of their records.
The terroristic use of force against protesters and hypocritical assertion of ensuring safety against “criminals” and terrorists” are tried-and-tested tactics of the state. The charges facing New Jersey protesters echo a similar tune to the trumped up charges and allegations of terrorism facing many activists and leaders in the Philippines, which have ramped up since the passage of Duterte’s Anti-Terror Law. From the Philippines to New Jersey, we share a common enemy in a police state hellbent on controlling and intimidating its people. More importantly we share a common struggle and resistance. It is through this commonality we are called to stand in solidarity, both locally and as part of the Filipino diaspora.
Moreover, “illegal” migration to this country must be contextualized in the global, political, and economic situation. Migrants and refugees are fleeing from underdeveloped nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia to places like the United States because of the inherent lopsidedness of the imperialist system, which leaves the majority of the world’s people in poverty. While the imperialist United States is seeing the emergence of ultra-wealthy centi-billionaires, the majority of the country and the world struggle to put food on the table. It is no wonder then that people migrate to wealthier nations like the United States in search of a livelihood, only to be incarcerated and exploited for their labor behind prison bars.
Though most of the detainees in Bergen County Jail have ended their hunger strike, the struggle continues. Despite being transferred to the immigration jail in Batavia, NY, two hunger strikers carry on and are inspiring many others both in detention and out in the community. In celebration of International Migrants Day, National Democratic organizations in New Jersey will be joining our allies for a Free Them All Car Caravan to on Friday, December 18, 2pm-4pm.
As Filipinos in New Jersey, we see our struggle as part of a larger struggle for the liberation of migrants and all oppressed and poor people. We demand the release of all detainees and the shutdown of all immigration jails in New Jersey. We must also address the roots of forced migration, which means an end to U.S. imperialism and the building of a socialist society.
Calls to action (See flyers below):
- Commemorate International Migrants Day through a global online rally. Attend on December 17 9 AM EST. Register here.
- Join the car caravan that connects immigration detention facilities in NJ to demand #FreeThemAll with no transfers or deportations. December 18 2 PM to 4 PM. Register here.
- Join the Night of Popular Resistance cultural night on Sunday, December 20 at 1:30 PM to 7 PM @ 160 S River St., Hackensack NJ 07601
- Sign on to IMA USA’s Grassroots Migrants Agenda
STOP CRIMINALIZING MIGRANTS!
RELEASE ALL MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES!
ACTIVISM IS NOT TERRORISM!
PASISTANG ESTADO IBAGSAK! BRING DOWN THE FASCIST STATE!