By Cheryl LaBash
Published Aug 29, 2008 8:15 PM
On Aug. 22 demonstrations in many U.S. cities demanded an immediate moratorium on raids, incarcerations, deportations and separation of immigrant families. The urgent call responded to the racist killing of 25-year-old Luis Ramírez and plans by ICE/Homeland Security to dragnet half a million people in the next six months.
Ramírez was beaten to death by three white high school football players in Shenandoah, Penn., near Hazelton, Penn., a town notorious for enacting virulent anti-immigrant laws. At the Aug. 18 arraignment for the accused killers, where the charges were reduced from first degree to third degree murder, demonstrators gathered outside the Schuykill County, Penn., courthouse to demand justice for the slain Mexican immigrant.
Teresa Gutierrez, a leader of the May 1 Coalition for Immigrant and Worker Rights, who traveled from New York City, told WNEP-TV, “No one has the right to be judge, jury and executioner on the streets of this country, no matter the legal status of any Latino or other immigrant.”
Emma Lozano, who traveled from Chicago with a delegation of young pink-bereted Latinas, said: “That’s why we’re here. We’re here to say the hate’s got to stop. We’re here to battle the hate, not to battle individuals or a race or a color of people, just the hate.”
The nationwide protests were organized as a result of a call from Latinas, a Chicago-based group of women including Emma Lozano, Flor Crisostomo and Elvira Arellano, and Familia Latina Unida/SIN FRONTERAS. Arellano is a Chicago airport worker who took sanctuary in a church there for more than a year to draw attention to the cruel separation of immigrant families. She was deported to Mexico after leaving sanctuary. Crisostomos is now in sanctuary in the same Chicago church.
According to a statement issued from Mexico by Elvira Arellano on Aug. 25, the demands for the moratorium were raised in fourteen U.S. cities, as well as Mexico City.
In New York City, the May 1 Coalition for Immigrant and Worker Rights held a picket/press conference at the ICE Processing Center in lower Manhattan.
In Chicago, a new ¡Ya Basta! Coalition gathered with Congressman Luis Gutierrez and over a dozen Latin@ elected officials and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. One by one the delegates pledged to bring the demand for a moratorium to all the delegations at the DNC.
From Mexico City, Mexico, in a moving moment, the mother of Luis Ramírez called to address the crowd and the press in Chicago over a speakerphone. “I just want justice for my son,” she said, surrounded by supporters at the press conference supporting the demand for a moratorium.
In Detroit, more than 30 picketers appeared at the Detroit Homeland Security ICE office. Latinos Unidos and Pro-Immigrant Awareness spearheaded the Detroit action. It was supported by members of Centro Obrero, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Human Rights (Ann Arbor), the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman and non-immigrant organizations including the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), the youth group Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST)—Cleveland chapter and the National Lawyers Guild.
In Los Angeles, more than forty people picketed the downtown Federal Building
In Portland, Ore., Jobs with Justice coissued a press release endorsing the Aug. 22 moratorium demands and urging supporters to contact delegates. Gatherings also occurred in Philadelphia and Houston.