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Music demonstration in solidarity with ICE detainees in Freeborn County, MN

By staff |
July 12, 2017
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Group photo of activists with MIRAC and Unlawful Assembly marching band
Group photo of activists with MIRAC and Unlawful Assembly marching band (Fight Back! News/staff)

Albert Lea, MN - On July 9, activists with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee and the Unlawful Assembly marching band traveled in a caravan from Minneapolis to the Freeborn County Jail in Albert Lea an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities. They assembled with banners, chants and music to protest the county’s contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and offer moral support and uplifting music to ICE detainees and other inmates inside the detention center.

Freeborn County first signed a five-year contract with ICE in 2009, receiving $77 per day per inmate. The contract is lucrative - in some years generating as much as $2.5 million for the county’s social services, road maintenance and infrastructure. Freeborn County is one of four counties in Minnesota profiting from holding ICE detainees. Sherburne, Ramsey and Carver counties also have ICE contracts.

The rally demanded that Minnesota counties stop profiting off of contracts with ICE and that they stop deporting members of our communities. Stories were shared that denounced ICE for its practices of breaking up families, brutalizing those it detains, and forcibly removing people to life-threatening situations in their countries of origin. Local law enforcement was critiqued for using racist policing tactics to profile, detain and deport immigrants and for producing profit by trafficking in human lives.

The protesters challenged local government and residents to end the silence and begin a conversation about the moral foundations of their local economy. The demonstration offered music and moral support to inmates, and raised local awareness regarding the rural nature of racialized border enforcement and the collusion between Minnesota counties and ICE.

Demands included:

  • No More Deportations: We will not continue in silence while community members are held for profit in jails funded by Minnesota residents.
  • Break the Contract: Freeborn County is currently renewing contracts with ICE on a yearly basis. We demand they not renew this contract.
  • Sanctuary State: It has become clear that Sanctuary City statuses in Minnesota have a limited effect as immigrants without citizenship status continue being detained in the Twin Cities area and other parts of the state and held in these four county jails. Counties around the state, including Hennepin County, continue notifying ICE when immigrants enter their jails. We demand an end to county cooperation with ICE statewide.

See video from the protest here: