Monday, August 9, 2010

Noise Demonstration at Santa Cruz County Jail

“Bunch of overgrown boy scouts/but it’s us against them ‘til they let every one of my boys out” –Unalike, A-Alikes
On Friday evening, August 6, we gathered outside the Santa Cruz County Jail to demonstrate our solidarity with the people locked up inside and express our hatred of imprisonment. About 30-40 of us stood in the middle of Blaine Street, next to both the main County Jail (where 336 people are locked up) and the Women’s Facility (21 people). We banged on drums made from 55-gallon barrels with the intention of creating as much noise as possible to breach the prison walls. Our portable sound system blasted insurgent hip-hop, including N.W.A’s “Fuck the Police” and the Geto Boys’ “G-Code.” We carried two banners stating, “Free All Prisoners” and “Chinga la Migra/Fuck I.C.E.”

Chants included “We Are All Illegal, Todos Somos Ilegales,” “Chinga la Migra, Y La Policia,” and “Revolt on the Outside, Revolt on the Inside!” We also told jokes at the expense of cops and jail guards. At one point, as the jail guards stood on the roof of the jail watching us, people started chanting “Jump! Jump! Jump!” We also used a megaphone to attempt to speak directly to the prisoners and let them know that they are not forgotten and that they have support from the outside.

One of the main reasons we were there was to express our rage at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (AKA La Migra). We despise the very existence of I.C.E. and borders, but we’re specifically pissed off about a program (named “Secure Communities” by some twisted bureaucrat) that is going to be implemented in the local jail starting August 10. "Secure Communities" mandates that every person booked into jail will have their fingerprints run through an I.C.E./Department of Homeland Security database. Currently there are 25 people on I.C.E. hold in the County jail system, meaning that they will be held an extra 48 hours after they should be released, so that I.C.E. can kidnap them. The new program, funded by Obama, will lead to even more people being detained and deported. Also, earlier this year, the city decided to hire eight more cops, and the police’s gang unit has started working directly with I.C.E.

The apartment complex next to the jail has similar architectural features—isolated units surrounded by high walls and a metal fence. Some of the neighbors came outside and spoke with participants in the demo. Generally, they seemed supportive; one young girl even joined in briefly by playing a drum. We also passed out a pamphlet containing our analysis in hopes of spreading a critical dialogue about I.C.E. and imprisonment. The demo was an attempt at breaking out of our own isolation and communicating with others, both the prisoners and the neighbors. In some ways, we were successful, but we have much to learn. It was an empowering event for participants and some passersby, though we haven’t yet heard what the prisoners’ reactions were. In a heartbreaking moment as we were leaving, we exchanged glances with a woman in the Blaine St. Facility standing at the window. The grim reality of confinement was unavoidable as we departed and she remained.


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