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Minneapolis protest demands: Sanctuary for all, no to border militarization!

By Wyatt Miller |
May 13, 2019
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Minneapolis protest demands immigrant rights.
Minneapolis protest demands immigrant rights. (Photo by Brad Sigal)

Minneapolis, MN - The national flags of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador fluttered above the Plaza Centenario in one of Minneapolis’s most immigrant-rich neighborhoods on May 11 as around 40 demonstrators demanded, “Stop militarization of the border!”

The protesters distributed fliers to pedestrians on bustling Lake Street and bannered their message to the honks and fists raised in solidarity of passing drivers. Group chants included, “No ban! No wall! Sanctuary for all!” and “¡Zapata vive! ¡La lucha sigue!”

Organized by the Minnesota Caravan Solidarity/Minnesota en Solidaridad con la Caravana coalition, the demonstration was endorsed by a host of immigrant rights, anti-imperialist and Latino community action groups. The event took place as the situation worsened at the U.S. -Mexico border and in the Central American countries undergoing massive refugee exoduses. Recent weeks saw armed, racist paramilitary groups rounding up people on the U.S. side of the border, the deployment of apartheid-trained Israeli troops to Honduras, and the deaths of multiple asylum-seekers in U.S. custody.

In a speech, Kent Mori of the Anti-War Committee emphasized the role of U.S. foreign policy in fueling the violent conditions causing the refugee caravans. “In Honduras, for example, the Trump government continues to support a right-wing government that came to power under President Obama in a U.S.-sponsored 2009 coup. Specifically, the Trump’s administration supplied $200 million in military and police aid to the repressive Honduran government this past year,” he said.

Mori continued, “The failed coup against the Nicaraguan government in 2018 is one recent example of the U.S. government funding unrest and violence in the region. Another example, this time in El Salvador, shows how the U.S. prepares for regime change operations by installing officials who would aid in the overthrow of popular, elected governments. Trump’s latest ambassador nominee to El Salvador, Ronald D. Johnson, shows this pattern clearly. Johnson is a former military officer and current employee of the CIA who has no experience in diplomacy. What is this guy’s purpose, if not regime change at some point in the future?”

Sherilyn Young of Hands Off Honduras elaborated on the Israeli troop deployment, saying, “Through this ten-year agreement, 1000 Israeli soldiers will arrive to train the country's army for border protection.”

“The Trump administration has demanded that the Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments stop their citizens from leaving their countries and from coming to the U.S.,” Young explained. “It’s no surprise that the underlying goal is to train for border protection to stop migrants fleeing, especially children and Africans, as one news article stated. It’s no surprise that the Israeli army will share space with the Joint Task Force-Bravo of the U.S. armed forces at the Jose Enrique Soto Cano air base in Palmerola, south central Honduras.”

Protesters also drew attention to repression at the U.S. border. Brad Sigal from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee said, "We went on a delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border, and the only crisis we saw was the human rights catastrophe created by the Trump administration illegally denying asylum seekers into the country, as well as the native O'odham people and border communities in Arizona that live under 24/7 military occupation by Border Patrol. This is the crisis that we must end, by fighting to end militarization of the border and winning legalization for all."

Minnesota Caravan Solidarity/Minnesota en Solidaridad con la Caravana announced plans to continue mobilizing against U.S. militarism and oppression of refugees fleeing Central America.