Post Event Report on "Occupy the Freeholders"
For everyone who missed yesterday’s festivities at Occupy Newark and the Freeholders meeting here is a little update:
The Rally & March
It was pouring rain yesterday so I don’t begrudge anyone who did not show up to the rally, but kudos to those who did. We were a small group but we were joined by a couple members from Occupy Newark who did not lack in enthusiasm and lead chants of “jobs not jails” and “no prisons for profit” as we marched first to Wells Fargo next to the Federal Building and then to the POP rally before heading into the Hall of Records. Craig has some good video of this that I hope he will be sharing soon.
The Freeholders Meeting
The real drama, however, was at the freeholder meeting. About 20 people testified in opposition to the ICE contract. We tied up their meeting for at least an hour.
Rev. Moacir Weirich was brilliant. He asked the freeholders to reflect on how their actions would be perceived in the long-view of history and made a reference to how slavery was also justified because it was economically expedient. All of IRATE & First Friends interns testified about conditions and their experience visiting. There was at least one of the volunteer visitors who spoke as well.
Sally Pillay was also brilliant when she said that if there was a community oversight board we wouldn’t need to take up the freeholders time complaining about conditions at the jail and Delaney Hall.
As a result of about an hour of public testimony in opposition to the ICE contract they were not able to get through the entire agenda. At least another 1/2 hour was given to Alfaro Ortiz and Phil Alagia to respond to all of our comments
Some of the most outrageous things:
- · Someone in finance for the Essex County Administration was detailing net financial benefit from the contract. He said that the purpose of the contract was to keep property taxes low. He also referred to the ICE detainees as “revenue generating inmates”.
- Freeholder Luciano referred to our complaints as “rumors”
- Freeholder Sebold said we should all stop complaining to them and head to DC to lobby congress
- Ortiz kept saying we were all confusing conditions at other facilities with the conditions at Essex
- Ortiz said that Essex County cannot institute a community oversight board without the permission of ICE
- Oritz told the freeholders that at most there is a 30 minute wait to see a detainee when we know it can take hours
- Ortiz also admitted that there was an "odor" in the area from the various industries, but somehow it does not penetrate the building. (As if the jail & Delaney Hall were hermetically sealed)
John Clancy CEO of CEC - *MAJOR DRAMA*
John Clancy was also on hand, but he was not able to speak because of the meeting running over. However, he was confronted in the hallway by a young man who identified himself as being undocumented. The young man asked Clancy how he could sleep at night. He continued for several minutes until a sheriff's officer asked him to leave the building.
If you read the hashtag #OccupyICE on Twitter you will get some more of the blow by blow.
Clancy and the crew from CEC will be back next week to testify at the freeholders meeting on the 14th so we should do our best to have a full house again.