Shut Down Berks Rally Outside of Berks County Detention Center

On Friday, July 17th, Tsuru for Solidarity joined with the Shut Down Berks Coalition, Families for Freedom, Free Migration Project, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, and Haitian Bridge Alliance at Berks County Detention Center, calling for the immediate release of the families in detention at Berks.

In June 2020, Judge Dolly Gee ruled that ICE must release children from family detention centers including Berks, by July 17th due to COVD-19. Instead, Berks continues to operate illegally, incarcerating families at risk of being further exposed to this deadly pandemic. The majority of these families are Black and Brown immigrant families they are subjecting to unsanitary, unsafe conditions and potential separation.

Attorneys representing the families have serious concerns that ICE may use Judge Gee’s ruling to separate children from their parents. Parents then have to make an impossible “choice”: to remain together with their children in detention and risk COVID infection, or to give up their child, potentially forever, so that their children can be released from deadly jail conditions. As Satsuki Ina stated when this “choice” was first introduced earlier this year, the Japanese American community is all too familiar with these inhumane, double-bind, no-win situations being imposed in detention.

We protested together at Berks in solidarity with the Black and Brown families enduring these inhumane, devastating conditions. We will continue to fight to #FreeTheFamilies.

See more of our July 17th Action:

In Tsuru for Solidarity, our work is grounded in being the allies we didn’t have during World War II, when our own families were rounded up and imprisoned in the camps. On July 17th, so many communities came together to show up for the families inside Berks.

We’re so moved to have been able to sing, dance, drum, and raise our voices together with the Shut Down Berks Coalition, Families for Freedom, Free Migration Project, and Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees to demand an end to Berks, to family separation, and to detention.

We’re deeply grateful to have shared in this day of connection with everyone who showed up in person and in spirit, as well as with the families at Berks who were able to hear our collective voices and song.

Voices from our community: Video Statements to #ShutDownBerks and #FreeThemAll

Calls to action by phone and email:

For those who could not join in person, you can still speak out and take action with us from home by following the actions outlined here. Head to our toolkit: bit.ly/TsuruBerksMediaToolkit  for more guidelines, resources, and graphics to share out!

Calls to action:
Demand that Governor Tom Wolf issue an Emergency Removal Order to #FreeOurFamilies by Calling:
Governor Tom Wolf: ‪717-787-2500‬ 
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman: ‪(717) 787-3300‬
PA DHS Secretary Miller: ‪(717) 787-2600‬

Call Berks Co. Commisioners
Demand the end to family detention in PA:
Commissioner Rivera: 610-478-6136
Commissioner Leinbach: 610-478-6136
Commissioner Barnhardt: 610-478-6136 Ext. 4

Sample Call Script & Email Script: 

“Governor Wolf, you must issue an Emergency Removal Order on the Berks County Detention Center Now. With COVID19, families at Berks are in the most vulnerable situation. They have no say or control over their own health care and this is a facility with years of medical neglect and outbreaks. 
In addition to COVID-19, now families at Berks face the threat of family separation. On June 26th, Federal Judge Gee once again ordered ICE to release children from the three family detention centers. Attorneys representing families in Pennsylvania have serious concern that ICE may use this ruling to separate children from parents. It is not enough for you to “applaud” Judge Gee’s ruling and hope that it is “the beginning of the end of family detention,” — you must stop ICE from separating families. These are Black and Brown families they want to tear apart.  
Governor Wolf, I urge you to issue an ERO and work with Berks County Commissioners Barnhardt, Leinbach and Rivera to transition the family prison into a facility that provides human services for the people of Berks County. 
If you continue to do nothing, you are jeopardizing the lives of the families incarcerated on your watch, as well as the detention center staff, their families, and our communities.”

#BlackLivesMatter #FreeThemAll #EndFamilyDetention

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