We must defend protest and dissent – SDMV stands in solidarity with the J20 defendants

By DefendJ20Resistance

This is a statement released by Sancutary DMVs in solidarity with the J20 defendants:

Sanctuary DMV joins the growing calls for the government to drop all charges against those who showed up on Inauguration Day 2017, January 20th 2017 (J20 defendants) to protest the policies of this government – policies that systematically target and criminalize undocumented communities and immigrants more broadly – and who have, as a result, faced police brutality and charges that are politically motivated and repressive.

Sanctuary DMV stands against the US criminalization and deportation machine that is part of overlapping criminal justice and immigration enforcement institutions. The US criminal justice system is the main way that undocumented people are transferred into the hands of immigration authorities, often resulting in their detention and deportation. This system is founded not on accountability but on punishment, tearing communities apart rather than helping bring them together.

The police have historically been used to target black people, people of color, and migrant communities and to sow fear among and between communities as a way of maintaining social control. The origins of the US policing system are rooted in controlling slaves and protecting private property and enterprise to ensure that racial, social, gender, and economic hierarchies are maintained. This takes many forms: from police brutality to surveillance of racial justice activists and undocumented communities to intimidation through the prosecution of dissent.

The J20 case is an egregious example of the current crackdown on the right to protest and dissent against the policies this administration. We have already seen cases where undocumented immigrant rights organizers have been detained after speaking out, in an apparent attempt to silence and instill fear in undocumented communities. More common, though, are the cases we don’t see, or those that aren’t covered by mainstream media, which often involve police impunity, and deadly and repressive practices exercised against communities already facing heightened criminalization by the state, including communities of color, poor folks, immigrants, trans and queer folks, and people with disabilities.

We recognize that the J20 case is an emblematic one, and has national implications for the ways that protesting is handled by police and prosecuted at the state and federal level. The case has already had a chilling effect on First Amendment protected activity, and we call on the government to drop the charges, and on friends and allies to reject the government’s attempt to criminalize dissent.

Learn more about the J20 case. Add your name demanding that charges be dismissed. Support the J20 Legal Defense Fund. Open your home to host folks from out of town. Stay up to date on what’s next as cases, charges, and ways to support evolve.

–Sanctuary DMV**

** Sanctuary DMV is dedicated to supporting local efforts to promote immigrant justice and defend against threats to targeted communities in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) areas. Sanctuary DMV is a solidarity group that pledges to resist policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities including those who are black, indigenous, Muslim, latinx, and LGBTQ+.