Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Featured, Incarceration, Indigenous, Midwest, White Supremacy
Report from Chicago on a large march organized by a coalition of groups against the Heartland Alliance, which operates a network of child migrant detention centers. A former worker there penned an expose on It’s Going Down regarding the conditions inside Heartland Alliance facilities, which you can read here.
On October 12th, Indigenous People’s Day Weekend, several hundred people marched to two migrant child detention centers run by the nonprofit Heartland Alliance in Rogers Park, Chicago. The demonstration, under the heading “Stolen Kids, Stolen Land,” highlighted the ongoing colonialist and genocidal project connecting Heartland’s de-indigenizing migrant child detention centers with the historical Native boarding school system.
Accompanied by makeshift drums, a tuba, and other instruments, the crowd stopped to chant and sing love and solidarity to the children held hostage inside. Demonstrators then took to the streets to let the neighbors know that Heartland Alliance is jailing kids for money hidden in residential buildings right next door. Spectators along the route expressed their astonishment and support, many leaving the sidewalk to join spontaneously in the streets, some with children in tow.
“Though the cops repeatedly attempted to block the march, they were shocked and dismayed as demonstrators repeatedly outmaneuvered them—improvising routes through alleys and stacking tables and chairs to jump fences.”
The demonstration shut down nearly two miles of major streets through the heart of the neighborhood. Though the cops repeatedly attempted to block the march, they were shocked and dismayed as demonstrators repeatedly outmaneuvered them—improvising routes through alleys and stacking tables and chairs to jump fences. Police attacked as the march turned down Sheridan Road, the busiest street in Rogers Park. They threw several people to the ground, violently arresting two people without provocation. After holding Sheridan for nearly half an hour, the march triumphantly reached its final destination, where demonstrators celebrated with free food distributed by Rogers Park Food Not Bombs.
Another small crowd moved on to the police station where the arrestees were being held. There, they entered the station en masse and confronted police directly to demand the immediate release of the detained comrades. (Both individuals are now free; anyone who was at the demo and has footage of the arrests is encouraged to reach out using the contact info below.) One arrestee described the utter confusion of police accustomed to such skirmishes downtown, but never in a neighborhood like Rogers Park. A longtime Rogers Park activist confirmed it as the most radical demo in the neighborhood’s memory.
“Another small crowd moved on to the police station where the arrestees were being held. There, they entered the station en masse and confronted police directly to demand the immediate release of the detained comrades.”
The migrant child detention facilities in Rogers Park, as well as several more in the Chicago area, are operated by Heartland Alliance, the second largest immigrant child detention contractor in the country. Independent investigations and testimonials from former employees have revealed the true nature of Heartland’s so-called “unaccompanied minors” program, which they have the audacity to misleadingly term “shelters.” Heartland profits off racist immigration policies, as kids in their so-called “care” are kept forcibly separated from their families, allowed only minimal contact with the outside world, even required to perform unpaid menial labor—all while Heartland collects information used by ICE against the children and their families and communities. Allegations of abuse and neglect at Heartland facilities are widespread and heart-breaking, including sexual abuse and medicating children without consent, and have already led to the shuttering of four Heartland facilities.
This action was organized by the Rogers Park Solidarity Network and the Little Village Solidarity Network and endorsed by Blood Fruit Library, PO Box Collective, Black and Pink: Chicago, Black Rose/Rosa Negra Chicago, the Chicago General Defense Committee Local 3, Tenants United Hyde Park Woodlawn, and the Chicago Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. It was a further escalation in an over year-long campaign to resist the centers and free the children from the brutal underbelly of the non-profit industrial complex. Among other victories, this campaign has successfully interrupted Heartland’s fundraising gala and disrupted numerous job fairs where Heartland was recruiting. Most recently, on October 17th, Heartland was shamed and chased out the UIC Diversity Career Fair, where they had hoped to recruit young people of color wanting to make a positive difference in the world to run their prisons.
“It was a further escalation in an over year-long campaign to resist the centers and free the children from the brutal underbelly of the non-profit industrial complex.”
The Rogers Park Solidarity Network was created to provide mutual aid to our community and build resistance to all forms of oppression. RPSN believes in autonomous non-hierarchical organizing, direct action, border abolition, and freedom of movement for all. If you want to get involved, email us at [email protected] and check out Little Village Solidarity Network on Twitter here. Now that the neighborhood is paying more attention, our next event will be a community teach-in on October 26th where folks can come and learn more about Heartland’s child detention centers and how to get involved in the movement to close them.