Richard Mellor and Sarah Bortt in Gary Indiana
Myself and another activist from Chicago attended a protest rally at Gary International Airport this morning (2-23-17) where a coalition of groups from North West Indiana and Chicago has held regular protests against deportations. Gary airport is a desolate place particularly this time of year and it is here that some 200 immigrants a month get their last look at the United States. In all, well over 12,000 people have been "removed" from their homes and families and flown out of the airport since the deportations began in the summer of 2013.
It was a bitterly cold day but the rally was well attended, perhaps two to three hundred people and there were numerous speakers. I arrived a little late and could not stay for the entire event or to see the buses arrive that bring the deportees. For those of us that have never experienced it we can only imagine the horrible consequences of ripping people from their communities and families.
The protestors have been limited to a small section of the the airport's parking lot and made sure they stay there through the presence of heavily armed SWAT teams and local police. There was a representative of an SEIU local there and some rank and file USWA (Steelworkers) members. I have to apologize to the reader (viewer) as the cold sort of got to me and I regrettably deleted the rest of my video clips and they had women speaking in them. So I only have this one and the one below both men.
In relation to the unions, the young guy in the video below who I believe was from the Black Lives Matter movement talks of the need to shut the place down and to physically stop the buses bringing the victims to be deported. This is what we have to do if we want to stop it and he's right. Mass protests, strikes, occupations and violation of the laws, what amount to anti-social laws, is what has to happen. It is good someone from SEIU is there and workers from the USWA and probably others.
But union members have to wage a struggle inside our unions to force the union leadership to mobilize the power of the millions of members and our communities. We have to raise this issue and others, and challenge the present passive and pro-boss policies as such a struggle will help educate the average member on what must be done. In the process of this battle for the consciousness of the working class a new leadership can be built. SEIU has 1.6 million members. The Chicago Federation of Labor has 500,000 workers affiliated top it, all of them under assault. There are 266,000 union members in Indiana. This is a potential pool of activists.
It is this worldview, their own consciousness, what the English historian Christoper Hill called the "Stop in the Mind" that is the primary source of the class collaboration, and betrayals on the part of the trade union hierarchy, corruption and graft where it exists is a secondary feature.
Once again, I apologize for only two clips both men. If folks would like to investigate further check out NorthWest Indiana Resistance on Facebook and also Refuse Fascism a group also involved in these protests took extensive video with more speakers. You can see it here.