Thursday August 22, 2019
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Milwaukee: Jews against ICE say “Never again is now”

By Rachel Ida |
August 6, 2019
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Milwaukee protest against ICE.
Milwaukee protest against ICE. (Sue Ruggles)

Milwaukee, WI - On August 1, Wisconsin Jews Against ICE, #neveragainisnow, held a protest outside the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. Starting at 8 a.m., about 200 Jews and allies from across Wisconsin rallied in front of the building. By 10 a.m., the agency had closed its doors, turning away people who had appointments scheduled with either ICE or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Activists stationed someone at the door to explain what was going on to the mostly foreign-born clientele turning up there. Many were sympathetic; others expressed frustration. Two left and returned an hour later with coolers filled with drinks and ice. They thanked those gathered for the action and encouraged them to keep it up.

The 22 activists who committed to civil disobedience carried white roses, a symbol of anti-fascist struggle, in honor of Rose Daitsman, an organizer who devoted her whole life to fighting injustice. She was a native Yiddish speaker, a lifelong communist, and a founding member of Milwaukee’s Human Rights Commission. They laid them in front of the driveways of the ICE building in downtown Milwaukee before sitting in front of them for the entire day, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For one day, no one was transported to detention through those doors of no return.

The action drew a diverse cohort of activists from across Wisconsin, but the presence of the torah and four rabbis, the sound of the shofar, and some tefillin and shawl-clad marchers powerfully marked the action as a specifically Jewish one. Imperfect and shimmering, it felt like the beginning of something.

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