Writer/Photographer Briana Gomez
“I think that we’ve experienced here locally deaths of children– father, daughter; we’ve had similar issues,” said Martha Sullivan, organizer.
November 1, 2020 (San Diego) -- An art protest against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol took place Wednesday in downtown San Diego. The protest, held on Mexico’s Day of the Day, aimed to draw attention to deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody. Tensions have risen locally after the death of a Mexican citizen at the San Ysidro Border last week.
At least 21 people died in ICE custody in the fiscal year ending July 30, nearly double the deaths in fiscal 2019, CNN reported last month.
“I think that we’ve experienced here locally deaths of children– father, daughter; we’ve had similar issues,” said Martha Sullivan (photo, right), the organizer of the event, pointing at the painting of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his young daughter Valeria Ramirez, Salvadorian immigrants who died arm in arm crossing the Rio Grande last year.
“It’s brutality at the hands of border patrol…dehumanization. They’re kept in very inhumane conditions in detention. The way that we have treated people who are seeking asylum in our country is really abominable…It it ignores our nation’s history,” said Sullivan.
“Locally we’re a microcosm of all it,” Sullivan added.
Sullivan was led to organize the event in collaboration with a local artist who depicted images of the victims of Border Patrol and immigration issues. The artist was not in attendance.
Sullivan has also been outside the children’s detention center in El Cajon. “I think the biggest concern that’s been reported is that there’s been allegations of sexual abuse and physical abuse and just the fact that these children have been separated from their families,” said Sullivan.
Despite the slowness of pedestrianism downtown on a Wednesday afternoon during the pandemic, Sullivan said that the exhibit had about 100 people engage and inquire about the protest.
Photo, left: On the back of each art piece shows the names of the victims along with how they died.
Chawn Reynolds was in attendance helping Sullivan display the pieces.
As a former Navy member, Reynolds is appalled how immigrants who served the United States have been treated.
“I also have friends who are with the deported veterans program and as a former Navy person myself I’m infuriated. There were five guys who went through bootcamp with me and they pulled them aside,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds noted that these five fellow members never received the citizenship that they were promised in exchange for their military service.
“They were told repeatedly, ‘all you have to do is finish your service and you’re automatically a citizen of the United States.’ Well apparently that’s not true,” said Reynolds.
“The bullshit that the politicians are pulling with this border has been going on for the last 150 years,” concluded Reynolds.