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Protesters Gather Downtown, Call for Abolition of ICE

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Protesters Gather Downtown, Call for Abolition of ICEPhoto by Rubén Castilla Herrera.
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The national movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned up the heat in Columbus on Monday, with a demonstration that shut down traffic Downtown for two hours and ended in 12 arrests.

The event gathered between 150 and 200 protesters, all of whom came with the goal to shut down the local ICE office on Broad Street. One woman was suspended from a 32-foot wooden tripod, which had another protester fastened to the bottom. Columbus police and fire officials appeared on the scene to bring the tripod down and halt traffic on Front Street. The demonstrators on the tripod, as well as 10 more that entered the ICE office, were arrested and are currently detained, awaiting charges.

Rubén Castilla Herrera, with the Columbus Sanctuary Collective, says the action was part of a national movement calling for the abolition of ICE, and that the tripod’s placement — across the alley from where undocumented immigrants are taken into the ICE office — was intentional.

This local call for action comes a week after a federal judge ordered the reunification of parents and children detained at the U.S.’s southern border. Hundreds of families remain separated despite the ruling.

Herrera said family separation didn’t begin this year, and that it’s been a widespread practice in deportation proceedings for years. He cites the recent workplace raids that have gone down in northeast Ohio, asserting that family separation is not only a border problem.

“Everybody is saying, ‘Protect our children,’ which we want,” Herrera said. “But the underpinning of that — the evil is the system. It’s ICE. They’ve been separating children from parents for years, it’s just now it’s Trump doing it, so now it’s making the news.”

The “abolish ICE” idea has gained traction not just in activist circles, but in political campaigns as well. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the 28-year-old socialist who usurped decades-long Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s June primary, ran her campaign on the issue. Other more high profile politicians swiftly followed suit, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

While Herrera declined to say when a similar demonstration may take place again, he said the fight was not over.

“What I can say is as long as this deportation machine continues with its cruel and inhumane practices with people, then there’s nothing else left but escalation,” he said.

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