Hundreds at Ft. Still called on Oklahoma Governor to prevent new camp and demanded Trump close all the camps
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Lawton, OK. – With resounding chants and booming drums, over 400 people took escalated action outside of the Fort Sill military post in Lawton, Oklahoma, to protest the government turning it into a concentration camp to incarcerate children and repeating history.
This multiracial action was led by immigrant youth, their families, Japanese American, Black, Indigenous, Jewish, veterans allies who fiercely reject this administration’s immigration policies including the concentration camps that have been built across the country to incarcerate immigrants and children, and which have resulted in severe abuse, trauma and multiple deaths by the deportation force of ICE and CBP.
Ft. Sill is the same place where the US government held 700 Japanese immigrant men without due process during World War II. Likewise, indigenous people of the Apache Nation have been imprisoned at there and generations of indigenous youth have suffered and have been forced to assimilate at the Fort’s boarding school.
Throughout the action, the members called on Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to get ICE out of Oklahoma and to stop supporting Trump’s administration as they criminalize immigrants, separate families, and kill asylum seekers.
Brenda Lozano, Program Development, Dream Action Oklahoma:
“Let’s remember why we are all here together, because for too long the government has incarcerated, abused and killed people of color. Generations of Japanese, Native American, and Black people have all been hurt by Ft Sill and we will not allow history to repeat itself with a concentration camp for immigrant children. We will not stop fighting until the camps are closed, all our people are released and the deportation force is out of Oklahoma!”
Jennifer K. Falcon, Communications Coordinator, Indigenous Environmental Network:
“Indigenous peoples across so-called America know the pain and trauma that comes with being forced into concentration camps. For generations, we have been healing our communities to reclaim our stolen languages and traditions beaten out of us at places like Fort Sill. Those of us with the privilege to rise up have the moral responsibility to help our relatives who are seeking refuge from climate chaos caused by America’s addiction to extractive capitalism by Big Oil.”
Mike Ishii, Co-Chair, Tsuru for Solidarity:
“When Japanese Americans were rounded up and forcibly removed from our homes during WWII, there was no outcry. People watched as we were put on trains and shipped to inland concentration camps. My mother was one of those children behind barbed wire.
This is why our elders came to Fort Sill to demand that this army base not be used yet again to detain 1400 migrant children just as it was used in WWII to imprison 700 men of Japanese ancestry, including 90 Buddhist monks. My community intends to be the allies that we needed during WWII and we are building a broad-based coalition. It is time to end this systemic violence. Kodomo no tame ni. ‘For the sake of the children.’”
Cristina Jimenez, Executive Director and Co-founder, United We Dream:
“Today we are calling the nation to action. We want you to see who is taking action here in Oklahoma and do the same in your city wherever you are. Our struggles are linked and so is our vision for a beautiful future.”
Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, State Chapter Lead, Women’s March Oklahoma:
“My favorite quote from Aboriginal Activists group, Queensland, emphasizes the importance and captures the spirit of the collective power of intersectional activism, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. ” We are at a moment of choice. We can either continue to allow Trump’s policies that criminalize migrants or we can fight back against an administration that seeks to deny humanity to people seeking a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”
Mary Topaum, Director, American Indian Movement Indian Territory:
“Anywhere, Anytime we will be there! We will continue to stand in solidarity and fight for the injustice and Racism that is done to our Indigenous communities. We say no more to history continuing to repeat itself.
Rev. Duncan Ryuken Williams, Buddhist Priest and Author of American Sutra:
“For us Buddhist clergy, the horrific situation faced by the migrant children about to be transferred to Fort Sill prompts us to recall a time when the site was an internment camp for the Japanese during WWII. Of the 700 interned in Oklahoma, 90 were Buddhist priests rounded up by the government in the wake of Pearl Harbor. They wrote about their time at Fort Sill living in outdoor tents in windy heat without soap or toothpaste. Three men died in this camp in May 1942, two killed by guards. Buddhist priests are gathered on this occasion to remember the past and pray for a future so that history doesn’t repeat itself and that American belonging is free from racial and religious animus.”
Stosh Cotler, CEO, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action:
“When future generations look back on this moment and see the atrocities being committed by our government they will judge not only those who were in power, but every single one of us who had the ability to speak out. That is why we have come together in solidarity today, because until all of us are safe in this country, none of us will be free. There is only one path forward: we must defund these out-of-control agencies and shut down this system of hate and human cages. The Trump administration’s white nationalism is fueling a rise of violence that targets all our communities — it is not an option to sit idly by. Together, we must keep rising up to say Never Again – Never Again for Anyone.”
Priya Desai, Executive Director, Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice:
“The Trump administration has proposed reopening Ft. Sill as an American concentration camp, and the people of Oklahoma stood today to unequivocally tell them no. We want local and federal officials to heed the message. Keeping families safe and together is a core tenant of Reproductive Justice and as such The Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice condemns this proposal, and demands the closure of not just this camp, but every facility like it. Immigrants have rights in this nation and it is all of our responsibilities to defend them.”
Rebecca Pollard, Co-Chair, Democratic Socialists of America – Oklahoma City:
“As socialists, we know that our solidarity must extend beyond the US to all working class and marginalized people around the world, including our neighbors in Central and South America. The existence of these concentration camps is unacceptable and it is our duty to support our fellow organizers in the immigrant rights movement. We are proud to be involved in the planning of these important actions.”
Maggie Martin, Co-Director, About Face Veterans Against War:
“About Face: Veterans Against the War are showing up in support of migrants and asylum seekers and to say no to the militarization and criminalization of immigration, no to concentration camps, and to remind people in this country about the ways US militarism has created and exasperated the very conditions people are trying to escape.”
George Takei, American actor, author, and activist:
“I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. It is horrific that a place like Fort Sill, which was once used to unjustly detain Japanese Americans, should be used today to hold migrants. We cannot allow our past mistakes to become present policy.”
The local and national organizations that took part in the action include: Dream Action Oklahoma, United We Dream, Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City, Democratic Socialists of America – Oklahoma City, Native Voice Network, Tsuru for Solidarity, Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Indigenous Environmental Network, Women’s March OK, American Indian Movement Indian Territory, NACA-Inspired Schools Network, The Majority, Workers Defense, Bend the Arc, Sunflower Community Action,Center for Popular Democracy, Sunrise Movement, The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, About Face: Veterans Against War and others.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.