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Rally and March Against I.C.E. and Border Partrol In El Centro and Calexico/Mexicali

by danimal
At around 2:00 pm Nov. 9th, a caravan of demonstrators led by a crazy yellow school bus rolled up just down the street from the I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Service Processing Center in the middle of El Centro. The detention center is located snugly and unassumingly in a residential neighborhood which made for an interesting protest situation. As people assembled with a wide variety of drums, puppets, and banners, ICE agents watched from their rooftop and local police began to film the event.
At around 2:00 pm Nov. 9th, a caravan of demonstrators led by a crazy yellow school bus rolled up just down the street from the I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Service Processing Center in the middle of El Centro. The detention center is located snugly and unassumingly in a residential neighborhood which made for an interesting protest situation. As people assembled with a wide variety of drums, puppets, and banners, ICE agents watched from their rooftop and local police began to film the event.

The march began its move toward the rear of the detention center through the surrounding neighborhood where residents came out of their homes to watch and a few demonstrators passed out fliers. The marchers stopped and gathered around the rear gate chanting, dancing and playing music. People pressed up against the fence and many began tearing the plastic strips from the metal fencing. There was an increased police presence and the local televsion news began filming. Marchers furiously shook the gate and during the commotion, I.C.E. agents inside the facility frantically snapped photos of the demonstrators and ran to secure the gate.

At this point marchers moved to the side of the facility and after the hasty retreat of a Border Patrol van, continued down a narrow dirt road which led back out to the main street, Imperial Ave. This was a potentially dangerous move on the part of the organizers as the road was flanked on one side by the razor wire fence of the facility, on the other by a small canal, and finally behind by two trailing squad cars.

The march moved back onto Imperial Ave. which had now been blocked off by the sheriffs dept. Many demonstrators filed onto the front lawn of the detention center waving banners and shouting but soon noticed the empty street and went to fill the gap created by law enforcement. This became the scene of an impromtu dance party. Residents of El Centro watched the scene as they drove by and some stopped in the adjacent parking lot to film the event..

Soon after, the momentum to hold the street and intersection began to lessen at which point it was decided by the organizers to rally at a new meeting spot, this time the border crossing in Calexico/Mexicali.

During the course of the action forces of order showed uncharacterstic restraint and kept a large distance from the marchers. This could be seen to stem from the actions of the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers who talked with the forces of order and negotiated the terms of the march.

The rally met once again, albiet with a few less people, at the Calexico/Mexicali border crossing. The feelings here were quite different with an enemy/obstacle much more abstract than the armed guards of the detention facility. At first demonstrators seemed stumped at where to begin, but as their numbers grew they moved into the fountain area just in front of the crossing, drums and chants starting to fill the evening. The setting here was much more intimate than earlier in the day, with pedestrians crowding the streets and shops and occasionally coming out to give a quizzical stare.

Demonstrators chanted, laughed, and drummed, but between and around it all was the steady stream of movement, people pushing through the turnstiles, coming back to Calexico, going home to a long weekend in Mexicali.

With all the excitement on the U.S. side, some in the rally decided to cross over and meet up with fellow demonstrators in Mexicali. The large portion of the group in the U.S. now moved east to a broad parking area where they could connect with those in Mexico. First they joined in a die-in with many holding white crosses to represent the many undocumented travelers who have died crossing the border. Here the beat picked up as people pounded against the fence and drummed together with folks from Mexicali as about a dozen Border Patrol agents looked on.

The rally dissapated around 6:30 with most people heading back to the camp for the evening festivities.
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so what?
Sat, Nov 10, 2007 12:52AM
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