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Dec 7, 21

Report Back from Disruption of Heartland Alliance’s Holiday Brunch

Report back on recent mobilization and disruption of the Heartland Alliance, a non-profit which imprisons migrant children in so-called Chicago. For a deeper dive, go here.

On Sunday, December 5 at 10 AM, demonstrators gathered outside the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Chicago to confront donors arriving at Heartland Health’s annual holiday brunch. While Heartland Alliance executives and donors continue gatheing to eat brunch and pat themselves on the back for “helping the most vulnerable,” immigrant children detained in their facilities refuse food and attempt to escape.

Heartland Health is a social service division of Heartland Alliance, a massive nonprofit based in Chicago. Heartland Alliance uses its social services—such as Heartland Health—to hide the fact that 70-80% of its budget comes from federal contracts to run prisons for migrant children. In 2020, this contract was $47.8 million. Former staff at these facilities testify that what Heartland’s so-called “shelters” do is a “legalized form of kidnapping”. As this system of child detention expands nationally, so do Heartland’s profits.

Heartland Alliance also claims that the recent influx of Afghan children into their prisons is causing a “mental health crisis.” They refuse to acknowledge that imprisoning these children is the crisis. Making this about mental health is a diversion. By posturing as the solution, prison profiteers demand more and more resources to line their own pockets and expand a system of neocolonial violence. Heartland Alliance provides community health services with one hand, and helps disappear migrant children from their communities with the other. Prisons are not care. Mass detention is not a health service.

In solidarity with the children’s resistance inside, demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Four Seasons to accost Heartland’s donors with the violence that they bankroll. Chants of “Heartland and ICE, same shit twice!” and signs reading “Fuck your brunch” made a bracing welcome for unsuspecting patrons in velvet suits and floor-length fur coats.

Chicago Police, in collaboration with Heartland’s private security, responded belligerently to shield wealthy donors from demonstrators. Police shoved and repeatedly threatened protestors to clear the doors to the hotel. The protestors could not be contained, and went on to block the street and entrances to the hotel’s parking for Heartland’s guests, lighting smoke bombs and beating on bucket drums. The demonstration then marched to the sprawling commercial strip of Michigan Avenue and held the street for half an hour. The march wound its way back to the Four Seasons—playfully breaking through police lines meant to protect the hotel several times—in anticipation of an inside disruption.

As Heartland Alliance’s CEO Evelyn Diaz took the podium to give heartfelt thanks to attendees for dropping $300 on pancakes, a lone voice rang out. “Fuck your brunch! You jail kids for money! Those are not shelters, those are prisons!” Diaz was stunned into silence by the protestor who had wound her way to the front of the room and brought the celebration to a screeching halt. The crowd booed as the protestor called out Heartland for profiting off the trauma of families. Heartland’s Security staff had to intervene to protect her, a woman of color and single mother, from several vigilante male guests who repeatedly grabbed her, knocked her phone out of her hands, and tried to push her as she was leaving the room. Throughout this incident, Evelyn Diaz observed and said nothing to stop the assault, only speaking to thank security for removing the protestor. Security escorted the protestor back outside the Four Seasons, where she was welcomed warmly with joyful screams and chants by the demonstration.

It is not surprising that rich liberals would become enraged when the true nature of their “charity” is revealed, nor that the police would act brutally to protect them. We can’t stand by while Heartland and their donors couch their contribution to the deportation machine as so-called care. Fuck your brunch, and fuck your “mental health crisis.” Fuck your “social services.” US wars and US prisons are the disease. Resistance is community health. Rebellion is self-care.

Chicago Anti Detention Network
[email protected]
Instagram: anti.detention
Twitter: anti_detention

Disruption from inside instagram link:

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