On Friday, June 28, dozens of South Orange and Maplewood residents — include parents and children — gathered at the Elizabeth Detention Center to protest the immigration policies of the Trump Administration, including family separations and an announced, but delayed, mass deportation.
Speakers at the event included Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El in South Orange; Jamil Sunsin, age 18, of First Friends of NY & NY; Rev. Rob Greyson of UU Faith Action; Kason Little of Faith in NJ; Charlene Walker of First Friends of NY & NJ; Imam Saffet Catovic of Drew University; and Dr. Khadijah Costley White of SOMA Justice.
The protest was organized by the local grassroots organization SOMA Justice; the lead organizer was Allyson Murphy, who said that the rally lasted just over one hour.
According to a release from SOMA Justice, “Families with kids of all ages will gather for a peaceful protest outside Elizabeth Detention Center to stand up against ICE and the Trump Administration’s plans to deport ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants — especially families. We reject concentration camps and mass detention of civilians without trial. We will speak out about the deplorable conditions in which children are being held.”
Costley White live-tweeted the rally. (Read her tweets here.) At one point, she reported that detention center workers told her that photos of the exterior of the detention center were not allowed; police also arrived. Wrote Costley White: “Cops are here now, they’ve been called on us. Imagine a country that cares more about people standing on the street than the separation of babies from their parents???” She noted that one police officer did tell “ICE workers that I’m allowed to take photos. So our ICE agent crowd took a hike.”
After the rally, Rabbi Olitzky posted a photo of a young man at the rally with a megaphone (see below). Olitzky wrote, “At the ICE Elizabeth Detention Center this morning hearing from a young man whose parents were deported by ICE. We need to stop separating families.”