San Antonio, Aug. 4 — Occupy ICE SATX’s 24-hour occupation officially kicked off with a general assembly on July 17, as well as chanting and sign displays while camp was set up. The encampment is located at the edge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office parking lot on a stretch of lawn not technically the property of the city or ICE, whose inconspicuous office sits underneath a highway overpass.
Comrades from across the spectrum of the left gathered in San Anto, Tejaztlan, to show solidarity and support for Indigenous/Latinx families imprisoned under the illegal U.S. family separation policy. They were there to also give moral support to prisoners, some of whom have not yet received needed medical attention.
Present were the Autonomous Brown Berets, the Autonomous Student Network and the Contract Todo Network, whose members formed the Occupy ICE SATX movement and represent a cross section of decentralized leftist groups in Central/South Texas.
Over the last 18 days, the occupation has continued with three or four people present throughout the day and about the same number at night in the first week. As awareness and support increased, it grew in the second week to about twice those numbers.
The occupiers have held noise rallies most days of the week, usually with about 15 people, and in the afternoon, when buses with detainees are scheduled to arrive. Chanting, bullhorn shouts, singing and the clamor of household objects making improvised percussion could be heard through the neighborhood. Curious ICE employees flocked to their windows, and Homeland Security agents marshalled in the parking lot, bristling with tactical gear and service dogs, in an urgent response to the unarmed, nonviolent, lawful protest.
The occupiers raised their voices, reminding that “No one is illegal on stolen land” and advising onlookers to “Quit your job!” This caught the attention of local media TV crews, which in turn caused Homeland Security to reroute or cancel bus transportation of prisoners on several days.
Reactionaries from the “Patriot Front,” wannabe kossacks that are part of the U.S. immigration pogrom, attempted to attack the camp on Saturday morning, July 29. But occupiers stood their ground — nonviolently. They would not be triggered into reaction, and only incurred mild vandalism and a stolen flag. “Asher,” an occupant at the camp, stated: “ICE has a vested interest in the operations of white nationalist groups. ICE’s work is the realization of such groups’ manifestos.”
Word of the attack spread to community members who then came out and showed even more support during the second week. Friends of the occupiers and local concerned citizens from a broad racial and class spectrum donated needed items: food, chairs, blankets, toys, crayons, diapers and other children’s items.
About 50 families travel to the ICE facility every weekday morning to try to visit imprisoned loved ones and seek information about their immigration cases. For the children and parents visiting the prisoners, the camp now has much needed supplies, a full pantry and makeshift refrigeration.
A typical evening at Occupy SATX consists of cooking out, listening to music and reflecting on each day’s direct actions — a beacon of hope.