COWLITZ COUNTY REFUSES TO END COUNTRY’S ONLY CONTRACT OF ITSKIND WITH ICE DESPITE REPORTS OF HARM TO CHILDREN
January 18, 2021
COWLITZ COUNTY REFUSES TO END COUNTRY’S ONLY CONTRACT OF ITS
KIND WITH ICE DESPITE REPORTS OF HARM TO CHILDREN
Longview, WA — The Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention Center is the last county youth
detention facility in the nation to hold a contract with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
A 2020 report by Harvard-trained child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Amy J. Cohen, MD
details the myriad harms perpetrated against immigrant children locked within the facility.
Despite community members’ persistent advocacy efforts, Cowlitz County refuses to terminate
Dr. Cohen reports immigrant children at the Cowlitz facility are locked in their solitary cells for 16
hours per day, at minimum, with few breaks. There is no therapy and no psychiatric services
despite the facility placing traumatized children on psychotropic medication. The children are not
permitted outdoors unless an appointment has been made, which means that they can go for
months with no exposure to sunshine or fresh air.
“While detained U.S. citizen youth generally do not stay more than a week, migrant youth are
held for much longer,” Dr. Cohen wrote in her report. “The absence of access to stimulation
adversely and likely irreversibly affects brain development during a particularly active
Conditions have worsened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of Dr. Cohen’s
report last summer, mask-wearing and physical distancing policies were not strictly enforced,
the children spent even more time isolated in their cells than before, and there were no longer
teachers in the classrooms to support the children in their studies. While most of the local U.S.
citizen youth were released in March 2020 to protect them against the risk of COVID-19
infection, the facility never even considered releasing the immigrant children.
Dr. Cohen has over thirty years of experience treating vulnerable children and assessing trauma
caused by child incarceration and has testified before the U.S. Senate and members of the U.S.
House of Representatives. She has published and spoken as a recognized expert on the
Pastor of Longview United Methodist Church Allison Mattocks stated, “As a community member
and faith leader in Cowlitz County, I am appalled that our county continues this contract and
locks children in cages. This contract does not reflect our community’s values, and I implore the
county to end the contract with ICE immediately.”
Since October 13, 2020, Cowlitz County residents have frequently commented at the Board of
Commissioners’ Tuesday morning meetings at 9 a.m., calling on them to end the county’s
contract with ICE. More than 30 individuals have urged the commissioners to end this contract
at these meetings, including teachers, ordained clergy, lawyers, medical professionals, and
social workers. The commissioners have denied multiple requests that this matter be added to
an agenda for a future commissioner meeting.
Community members have also organized several vigils in front of the detention center, in front
of the commissioners’ offices, and at Longview Civic Circle, including a vigil on Christmas Eve
2020. Despite these and other efforts, Cowlitz County has refused to terminate their contract
Press Release from Office of Rep. Betty McCollum
For Immediate Release
November 20, 2020
Amanda Yanchury, 202-597-1228
McCollum: To Promote Middle East Peace and Security, Democrats in Congress Must Reject Illegal Israeli-Trump Annexation of Palestinian Lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) issued the following statement today after Sec. Mike Pompeo became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit an Israeli settlement, signaling a symbolic U.S. stamp of approval of Israel’s military occupation:
“Yesterday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued official U.S. ‘country of origin’ labeling guidelines that grant legitimacy to Israel’s illegal settlements by requiring all products produced in Area ‘C’ of the occupied West Bank to be marked as ‘Product of Israel’ or ‘Made in Israel’ when exported to the United States.
“Secretary Pompeo is once again flagrantly advancing the Israeli government’s effort to unlawfully annex Palestinian lands. This act effectively erases the longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy differentiating between Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
“This official State Department action means that the U.S. has provided tacit recognition of de facto Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands in violation of international law. This further entrenches an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people who are denied basic civil rights and human rights.
“Secretary Pompeo claims his actions are consistent with a ‘reality-based foreign policy approach.’ This right-wing ‘reality’ is nothing more than overt Trump administration support for Israel to maintain an unjust political system that denies Palestinians the right to self-determination and an independent Palestinian state.
“The Trump administration has acted with complete disregard for international law and decades of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy consensus to aggressively support and legitimize permanent occupation and a de facto system of apartheid. I reject Israeli annexation and will work to ensure the U.S. does not support, defend, or legitimize any plan to illegally annex occupied Palestinian lands. This is exactly why I introduced H.R. 8050, The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, in August.
“I urge Democrats in Congress to support efforts to promote peace, justice, and equality by prohibiting the U.S. from formally recognizing, legitimizing, or providing U.S. taxpayer assistance to any area of the occupied West Bank annexed by the Government of Israel in violation of international law.
“I also strongly urge President-elect Biden to implement rights-respecting policies grounded in U.S. obligations under international law, including United Nations Security Council resolutions, specifically Resolution 2334.”
A PDF version of this statement is available here. Information on H.R. 8050, The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, is available here.
Author: Matteo Tamburini, WPJC Board Member
Today's edition of the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, one of the two newspapers with the widest circulation, has the following headline:
"Usa, Trump celebra Colombo: 'Un grande italiano'. E si scaglia contro gli estremisti che minano la sua eredità." [English Translation] "USA, Trump celebrates Columbus: 'A great Italian'. And he attacks the extremists who undermine his legacy."
I wrote them the following reply, in Italian (the English translation follows):
"Spett.le redazione di Repubblica,
Nel titolo del vostro articolo di oggi, non si capisce bene di chi sia la descrizione si 'estremisti' diretta a chi 'mina l'eredità di Cristoforo Colombo'.
A usare quel termine siete voi, o state citando Trump?
In quanto Italiano DOC (nato a Firenze, cresciuto a Pistoia), e anche in quanto cittadino statunitense che da un decennio insegna matematica in una università' di Nativi Americani, devo dire che continua a infastidirmi il vostro accanimento contro una rivalutazione del lascito storico del colonialismo europeo.
E' cosi' difficile vedere le cose da un altro punto di vista? O anche solo ammettere che possa esistere un altro punto di vista?
Visti i tempi che corrono, sarebbe opportuno celebrare altri eroi (che certo non mancano), e cercare di coltivare un po' più di umiltà nei confronti della nostra storia.
Un cordiale saluto,
iscritto all'AIRE del Comune di Pistoia
Residente a Bellingham, stato di Washington, Stati Uniti d'America
Dear editors of 'La Repubblica',
In the article you published today it isn't clear who is using the term 'extremists', directed at those who might 'undermine the legacy of Christopher Columbus'.
Are you using that word, or are you quoting Trump?
As an Italian (born in Florence, raised in Pistoia), and also as a US citizen who has spent the last decade working at a university run by Native Americans, I must say that I find your ongoing aversion to any re-evaluation of effects of European colonialism quite vexing.
Is it so difficult to see things from another point of view? Or even to admit that another point of view is possible?
Given the times we're living in, we might be better off celebrating different heroes (there is no shortage of those), and to trying to cultivate a greater degree of humbleness in regards to our own history.
- - - - - -
As part of my enforced isolation during the pandemic, I have been doing more research about the history of Italian Americans' path to becoming white. As part of my Capoeira practice, I turned what I learned (mostly from reading Dixie’s Italians: Sicilians, Race, and Citizenship in the Jim Crow Gulf South by Jessica Barbata Jackson, LSU Press, 2020) into a poem in Portuguese - included below with English translation. Happy Indigenous People's Day!
Speak Up Speak Out Radio Host jim justice Speaks with Damani Johnson, WPJC's 2020 Lifetime Peacemaker Award Honoree
Radio host jim justice speaks with Damani Johnson, the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center's 2020 Rosemary & Howard Harris Lifetime Peacemaker Award honoree. Damani is the WWU's College of Humanities & Social Studies Program Director for the Munro Institute for Civil Education & editor in chief of the African Journal of Governance & Development. In 1988, Damani was on the Advisory Committee for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Presidential Campaign. He was also on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition from 1988-1992. He's been part of the Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce & offered week long educational sessions on Civil Rights in Washington over the past several summers. Listen in to find out more about all the work Damani has done to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn about others.
Posted on July 21, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) National Office is launching a hotline for activists and lawyers to report incidents of federal repression, such as FBI “door-knocks” at activists’ homes, grand jury investigations and subpoenas, and any other federal law enforcement efforts to undermine civil rights, including federal grab squads and the use of unidentified federal agents to police protests. The line is live at: 212-679-2811.
Since May, the NLG has continued to support the movement for Black lives, organizing to support legal defense efforts and provide Legal Observers for demonstrations. In the last week, we have seen the use of anti-protest shock troops by the federal government, such as Portland, where federal grab squads have arrested activists and taken them away from demonstrations in unmarked vans.
A memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests that these officers are acting under the auspices of DHS and are members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). This is a unit typically tasked with high level law enforcement operations and it is formed under US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). These officers are acting under direct orders from the Trump Administration and Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf.
The use of BORTAC to disrupt activism is a recent escalation by the federal government, which has also used the National Guard, FBI, and Secret Service in order to violently quell protests. These efforts come in combination with an aggressive political and legal strategy labeling ‘antifa’ a domestic terrorist organization. Federal prosecutors are also filing criminal charges against activists throughout the country.
The NLG Federal Defense Hotline will allow callers to have privileged conversations with attorneys, and to receive attorney referrals, know-your-rights information, and resources for responding to grand jury investigations and subpoenas. Inquiries about the line can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The line is staffed by attorneys organizing with the NLG, and will remain active as long as federal prosecution efforts continue.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
Author: Marii Herlinger, WPJC Intern
Imagine a world where Trayvon Martin was offered a ride home instead.
This sentence stopped me in my tracks last week. I found it in the last line of a poem (the author of which I was unable to find despite careful internet combing) and it took me several days to realize that these twelve short words hold the key to an abolitionist future.
The longer I have the privilege of learning about and working toward peace and justice, the more convinced I am of the power of imagination and joy in creating a future of liberation. James Baldwin writes: “in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible.” Angela Davis echoes this by saying “you have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” Assata Shakur writes: “part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It’s really working to create something beautiful.” And Audre Lord describes the “joy in living” as “one of our most potent weapons.” At the intersection of all of these quotes, from four essential American voices, is the notion that joy and imagination play an integral role in the movement for peace and justice.
Imagining a world where Trayvon Martin could have been offered a ride home instead — and, in turn, imagining a world without police — requires us to envision a world we’ve never lived in. And this act, of striving for a future which we have never tasted, can only be sustained if its source is positive — if its source is joy. My sister and I often distinguish between the songs we like and the songs we love by asking each other whether the song “fills us up” when we listen to it. In these moments, we are recognizing music as a source from which joy springs and sustains us.
I am learning that it’s not only a healthy personal practice to “follow your delight,” as adrienne maree brown would say (here is a link to a Black-owned book supplier selling brown’s book “Emergent Strategy,” about how joy intersects with social activism), but it is in fact a critical element of effective resistance. In the same way that anger and individualism are drains to the soul, joy and collectivism are powerful nourishment.
Applying this to the current canvas of political and social activity, at the same time that the struggle for Black lives is receiving a record level of national and international attention, it also seems to be exhibiting many signs of a social media trend. And in the middle of a pandemic, our streets and physical workplaces — historically common sites of social change — have undergone rapid obsolescence. So how do we create a movement which grows in strength despite this time of social distancing? One which survives our waning attention spans and the grab-and-go design of internet culture? How do we open up a third space, necessitated by a pandemic and the inability to gather, where imagination and joy are the pillars of our interaction?
When I say that our source of resistance must be positive, I’m not talking about positivity as a personality trait. I’m not saying you have to be or act happy all the time. Grief, rage, and discouragement have important places in this work, too. I’m saying that in order to engage in the work of worldmaking, we must allow ourselves to be continually revitalized by that which fills us up. (Within the movement, Black folks are expected to achieve this while simultaneously fighting for their basic rights — white people must remember this when we think we're experiencing burnout from the work.) Adrienne maree brown names some of these sources of joy: good sex, delicious food, a fulfilling community, life’s small coincidences, and love. At the center of revolutionary power is radical love. And in a capitalist system where we are taught to look out for ourselves first and foremost, love in essentially any form is already radical.
I wanted to write about joy, imagination and love during this critical time when the movement for Black lives has gained more momentum than I have ever seen in my lifetime. It seems that much of the activism currently trending only emphasizes concrete action steps, such as donating, attending protests, reading books, watching documentaries, etcetera. While these are no doubt crucial, it feels important to me to also reflect on the more abstract needs of a revolution. White supremacy culture values objectivity, overworking, and neglecting self-care — joy interrupts that. White supremacy culture encourages power-hoarding, defensiveness, and the idea that there is only one right way — imagination interrupts that. White supremacy culture teaches us to be individualistic, self-serving, and distrustful of each other — love interrupts that. Therefore, joy, imagination and love are revolutionary tools which actively defy capitalism and white supremacy. They are not merely helpful but essential ingredients for a new and better world — ingredients which Black theorists, activists, women and trans women have been using for centuries.
When James Baldwin, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis and Audre Lord wrote the words I quoted above, they were living in times that required them to imagine a world that then seemed unattainable. We have since heroized them for believing in the “impossible,” but they were never doing that alone. Their work was grounded in a collective vision, along with many people who may never have risen to fame but who were crucial in bringing us to the world we live in today. And, right now, we are being called into a movement that requires the same collective and constant (re)imagining that characterized the transformative epochs in which these people lived.
Many of us, if we are white, are new to the concept of prison and police abolition. We must remember that Black organizers and activists have been envisioning it for a long time out of necessity. None of us have lived in a world without police (yet), so it is difficult to imagine what that world might look like. But, as Baldwin suggested, belief in the impossible must be a daily exercise. And, after all, how do we get good at anything? By practicing it constantly. We must rise each morning convinced by the viability of a future where our brothers and sisters and siblings aren’t being murdered in the streets. We must practice joy, practice imagination, practice love. In doing so, we free ourselves, and each other.
We invite the WPJC community to contribute fact-checked submissions on local, national and global current events. Linking to original sources and articles is required. Submissions may be sent to email@example.com for review.