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Seattle Activists: Target ICE, Not Human Rights Defenders

It’s not too late for the city attorney to drop charges and avoid being complicit in Trumpian fascism.

Supporters of immigration rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando and others from the Northwest Detention Center Resistance group hold a rally outside the Seattle Immigration Court during Mora Villalpando's second deportation hearing on June 26, 2018, in Seattle, Washington.

On December 3, we, the members of the “Anti-ICE Nine,” are headed to a pre-trial hearing. We are each facing two misdemeanor charges — which could result in up to one year of jail time and a $5,000 fine apiece — for blocking traffic outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) downtown offices in Seattle, Washington, this past June. We were arrested for exposing the existence of ICE’s regional headquarters in downtown Seattle, and for opposing the Trump regime’s horrific treatment of immigrants.

When the Trump regime’s practice of separating migrant families and children was revealed in the weeks following our arrest, millions of people across the country joined the movement calling for the abolition of ICE. Now, following City Attorney Pete Holmes’s public threat to prosecute human rights defenders like us, we face criminal prosecution for our political stance.

Given ICE’s well-documented deportation terror, it is Holmes who is prosecuting recklessly by using his discretion to attempt to convict those who oppose ICE. In doing so, he is aligning himself with the Trump administration.

While Holmes may claim he is “neutrally” applying the law in prosecuting us, we believe that his purportedly “impartial” version of justice is a racist version of justice. As people who will not sit idly by while President Trump stokes the resentments of white supremacists and organizes an ever-expanding army of ICE agents, we demand that Holmes reverse course and direct his office’s energies toward protecting immigrant communities and ridding our city and state of ICE.

Family separation continues to be a heartbreaking reality in our region, with thousands of people detained in the Northwest Detention Center where they are exposed daily to toxic and traumatizing conditions. Direct confrontation, including civil disobedience, is necessary to push back on the Trump regime. We locked down on Second Avenue in a show of solidarity with everyone who is currently being terrorized by the Trump administration and to expose the fact that ICE runs its regional operations out of this so-called sanctuary city. In particular, the 2nd Ave. location is the site of US Homeland Security Investigations, which disproportionately targets youth of color in its “gang” task force. We call on all residents to ask themselves how Seattle can
call itself a sanctuary city while sharing residents’ personal information with Homeland Security.

Now, more than ever, we will continue taking to the streets to fight the Trump regime. The city attorney’s actions in prosecuting opponents of ICE demonstrates that our faux progressive politicians lack the will to oppose the continued rise of fascism and white supremacy in this country.

If Seattle is a sanctuary city, municipal officials should be asking themselves: Why are our undocumented friends afraid to drive a car, ride the light rail or take a Greyhound bus? Why is ICE allowed to operate its machinery out of billionaire real estate developer Martin Selig’s office building at 1000 Second Avenue? As a representative of the government, has Holmes done everything in his power to stop ICE from separating families and communities in Seattle?

Holmes labels our actions as “reckless,” but it is his repression of necessary activism during these times of deep danger for our immigrant communities that is truly reckless. It is his inaction against the real villains from his position of power that is truly harmful.

Holmes’s decision to spend precious city resources on bringing criminal charges against activists suggests to that he is more concerned about what the Seattle Police Department and downtown business associations think than about stopping communities from being terrorized by ICE. The city attorney has been on the right side of many issues, ranging from the move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana convictions to suing Big Pharma for its role in perpetuating an opioid crisis in our region. It is not too late to reverse course and drop charges against anti-ICE activists in order to not be complicit in the rising creep of fascism.

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