Speakers also mentioned that the private prison company CoreCivic , which is headquartered in Nashville, has a multimillion-dollar contract with ICE. One speaker shouted that ICE must be driven out of Nashville and was loudly cheered by the protesters. At the end of the vigil, members of the Tennessee Anti-Racist Network led the assembly to the Hill Detention Center, a few blocks away from the Courthouse. This center, maintained by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department, is one of those where migrants are taken and detained for ICE. The protest engaged in human rolling blockades of traffic at intersections on the way to the detention center. A petition was delivered to the Sheriff’s Office. There is a strong suspicion among activists here that the Sheriff’s Department has some type of agreement to cooperate with ICE, so another demand of the protesters was that the county cease any and all cooperation with ICE. The protest continued for another hour or so at the detention center with more speakers, including those who had not spoken on the Courthouse steps. At the Hill Center, the police told the march organizers that the protesters could stand on the sidewalk but not in the street. The organizers responded with “Stand where you want. There are just too many of us for them to arrest.” Serving as a backdrop to the Light for Liberty rallies was Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to detention facilities on the border. Conditions there were so abominable that not even a much-anticipated farce could be perpetrated. News reports abundantly illustrated 400 migrant men held in a large cage that was so overcrowded they could not even lie down. Even if they could repose, no pillows or blankets were provided, leaving only the cold concrete floor for slumber. A reporter traveling with Pence described an all-male detention center as emitting a horrendous stench from swelteringly hot temperatures. The Border Patrol supervisor who escorted Pence on this tour admitted that the men in custody had not been provided showers in 10 to 20 days.
Tonight family and went to the vigil in Nashville. When I saw this I lost it. pic.twitter.com/eWWFVAGsAn— Angel🇺🇸 #VoteBlueNoMatterWho (@AngelandRick) July 13, 2019
The conditions are so horrendous that not only are the migrants at risk, but also even those who come in contact with them on a protracted basis. Small wonder the children are dying. This is obviously intentional on the part of this administration and yet the occupant of the White House, Trump, recently stated that media accounts of the holding centers were “exaggerated” and that they are “beautifully run.” It was in recognition of this administration’s hateful, fascist policies that the protesters in Nashville angrily and militantly added their voices to the chorus of countless thousands across the nation and around the world to demand the closing of the border “death camps.” Further, there was speculation, in hindsight, in the Nashville community that the reason for the fizzling of Trump’s abortive ICE raids were the massive nationwide and worldwide protests of Friday. There was also realization that there needs to be rapid follow up and an escalation to continue this struggle to its successful conclusion as those fetid, wretched, concentration, torture camps are still open and need to be closed now.
Thank you to the brave men and women of @CBP working tirelessly each day to secure our border. The work you do not only keeps our country safe but keeps the American people safe and we are so grateful for your service! pic.twitter.com/aK4St41YFd— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 13, 2019
Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He was an organizer and delegate to the First and Second Intercontinental Indian Conferences held in Quito, Ecuador and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Recently, he has been an active participant and reporter in the Standing Rock struggle in North Dakota. He is an attorney and is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty. He is also writing a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war of the late 20th century. He is also the recipient of several Eagle Awards by the Tennessee Native American Eagle Organization and a former Director of Native American Legal Departments and a Tribal Public Defender.
This article originally appeared on People's World. It is published under a Creative Commons license.