Activists were planning rallies in three Bay Area cities today, beginning with a noon rally outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's local office, to protest unsafe and unsanitary conditions at ICE detention centers at the southern border. The SF rally quickly became a large protest that shut down Market Street and proceeded to 7th and Mission.
As KRON 4 reports, the San Francisco rally was to take place outside 1 Post Street, but rallies are also planned in Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa at noon, and in Walnut Creek at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Ygnacio Valley Road and North Civic Drive.
Latin Bay Area posted a notice about the Tuesday rally in SF, writing, "We’ve seen the images and heard the stories coming out of child detention centers. Horrifically, these conditions aren’t an accident. They are the byproduct of an intentional strategy by the Trump administration to terrorize immigrant communities and criminalize immigration."
Update: The rally was a big one, and it quickly spilled into Market Street at Montgomery after noon. Protesters then proceeded west up Market Street, disrupting traffic and Muni bus service around 1 p.m. Many people carried signs that said "Close the Camps," and also chanted this — organizers had used this website to announce the rally, using the URL CloseTheCampsNow.org.
The march led to the Federal Building at 7th and Mission, according to an alert from the SFPD, and protesters gathered there outside the Ninth Circuit, shutting down 7th Street as well.
#BREAKING: Hundreds of protesters are blocking an intersection in San Francisco's Financial District on Tuesday afternoon to protest U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention centers for immigrants. https://t.co/0idDfp6bsz— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) July 2, 2019
Anti concentration camp, anti ICE protest on Market Street in Downtown San Francisco, happening right now. pic.twitter.com/3JQW02HnpD— Darrell Owens (@IDoTheThinking) July 2, 2019
The rallies and the march in SF come just as a delegation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus paid a visit to the border and toured a detention facility in Clint, Texas that all described in no uncertain terms as deplorable. As CNN reports, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been at the center of the story of the Congressional delegation's visit, speaking to reporters both about the squalid conditions, and about feeling unsafe around Border Patrol officers there. There were reports that a detained woman says she was told to drink from the toilet when her detention cell lacked running water — this apparently came from Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas and twin brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, as the Associated Press reports — and Ocasio-Cortez repeated this on social media.
The delegation's visit coincided with the publication of a report by ProPublica about a secret Facebook Group for current and former Border Patrol officers in which they exchanged wildly offensive posts and memes about dead migrants, and including multiple derogatory posts about AOC herself. One image showed her face super-imposed on an image of a woman being forced to perform oral sex on the president. The revelation about the group likely led to AOC screaming at a some Border Patrol officers who were attempting to take a selfie with her prior to her tour of the detention facility — and subsequently to her comments about not feeling safe.
Speaking to AP, Ocasio-Cortez said she was not surprised to learn of the Facebook posts, and said, "It’s just indicative of the violent culture that we saw [at the detention center]." She further referred to the centers as "concentration camps" on social media, drawing ire from the Border Patrol union.
The head of the U.S. Border Patrol issued a statement calling the Facebook Group posts "completely inappropriate," but when questioned about it, the president made some typically Trumpian remarks about how he hadn't seen the posts but that Border Patrol officers are "patriots, they’re great people." He added, "They love our country. They know who’s coming in."
More photos below from sometime SFist contributor Ted Weinstein.