Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Remembering Dr. King with Resistance


Micah Table Clergy in solidarity

It was the week before our annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's life that our President decided to make his "shithole countries" statement.  A little later that week, his Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) agents moved on the New Sanctuary movement.  First by seizing Associate Director Jean Montrevil. We knew the director, Ravi Ragbir, would be next.
Ravi speaks of his situation

The New Sanctuary Movement
NSM logo
is a grass roots movement commiNSM lgo

tted to providing safety  and shelter to vulnerable immigrants who find themselves under threat from ICE. Drawing its inspiration from the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980's which provided shelter for those escaping murder and repression in Central America, the NSM is committed to saving lives as well. The New York Times Magazine (1/17/18) has reported that immigration officials no longer ask the required questions as to whether someone fears for their life if returned, warranting an automatic hearing . Instead, persons are immediately deported, often to their deaths upon return. There are now, for example, nearly 300000 Salvadorans subject for deportation to the country with the world's highest murder rate. 

By the time Ravi's report date comes on Thursday, Jean has already been sent to the Chrome Avenue Detention Center in Miami, one step away form deportation to Haiti. We gather for breakfast and prayers, and then as Ravi leaves for his hearing, abroad interfaith coalition starts out on a "Jericho Walk"....
Beginning the "Jericho Walk" through AI Wei Wei's installation, "Fences make good neighbors"
seven circuits around the Federal Court Building with Marc Greenberg of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing blowing the shofar. 

Later, word will come that Ravi has been detained. Because he fainted at the announcement, he is being taken to jail in an ambulance. Attempts are made to block the ambulance and ultimately two city council members are arrested including council member Jumane Williams being dragged away in a choke hold.


Monday is the annual King Memorial day. Today is not a day of rest, it is a  day of protest and marching. The special guest at Judson Memorial where we begin is Ruby Sales,
Ruby Sales
who as the little girl Ruby Bridges was the first to integrate the William Franz Elementary School in Louisiana.

Ms. Sales tells us our movement must be international and have hindsight, insight and foresight. And that Anti-Islam and Anti- Black are connected and the same.  What's happening today is not new, but has roots deep in the American soil.  And that we must rid ourselves of empirism with remorse, restitution, reconfiguration,reconstruction, reconciliation and resurrection. 

In the freezing cold, we go outside or another Jericho walk, And back inside the church, there is an overflow crowd for the press conference with the council members.
New Sanctuary press conferecne
The question before us is where will stand in this rising?  Council member Jumane Williams says We stand for all who are "other" anywhere and that we must uproot this system.

We now know that Ravi, too, has been sent to Chrome.  He and Jean were able to see each other before Jean was deported. Both have lived here over twenty years. Have wives and children. Are intimately and integrally part of their communities. And the Trump administration is determined o send a message to those who would seek to stand up for immigrants.


Back uptown, I join in the 16th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march for peace and justice.
At the Upper West Side march
This year's theme is "Immigration" and even with the freezing cold, a large crowd as come  out to march from congregation to congregation singing, chanting and praying. At Pastor Heidi's church, Trinity, two vulnerable immigrants take the risk to tell their story, just so we understand.
Telling their story
At the march's conclusion, Borough President Gale Brewer,
Manhattan Boro President Gale Brewer in solidarity
our former council member, lifts up Council members Williams and Martinez. There is clear public concern about Trump's actions.


At Ravi's court hearing on Tuesday, the judge expresses dismay that ICE would move when a natural "stay of deportation" hearing  date as fast approaching. ICE's chilling response was basically, "We did it because we can..."


Wednesday was the memorial service for my friend Philip Newell.
Philip's memorial service
His wife, Madelyn Tramm chose this day because it was in the center of the week celebrating Dr. King's life. And she chose the Riverside  church for the service because that was where Dr.King preached his famous Sermon criticizing the US in Vietnam. Not all were aware that Philip and Dr. King had bene study partners at Boston, Philip drinking beers and Dr.King...Diet Pepsi?...Madelyne noted that Philip's last word was a loud and clear declaration, "Exonerate!"...perhaps himself, perhaps all who struggle to believe in their own forgiveness. Speakers noted that Philip believed that faith was not about pieties, propositions and proscriptions but purpose, proclamation and prophetic witness.   And that he always believed at the Bible should be read as a social contract. with theological depth and resolve.  And that one must love and be immersed in life.  And that if you want to stay married, you must forgive each other from the bottom of your heart every day. 

Sitting in the congregation I can't help but wonder when I die, who will come? What will they say? What can still be done between now and then?


The judge ruled that Ravi must be returned from Chrome to Elizabeth, New Jersey. And today, that he must be released from  detention. Deportation still seems imminent.

Saturday, 100s of thousands marched again in the Women's March. It's spirit was buoyant and defiant, voices --and fists--raised at Trump Tower, the Trump Hotel and FOX news.
At the march

at Trump Tower

Diverse voices

Spirit of the day

Steady flow of marchers

The BBC ran a report on deportations that most Americans haven't figured out yet. People we've known for decades, neighbors,  are disappearing day by day. We are already deeper into an alternative reality than could have been imagined. 

Steady loving confrontation, King called us to in Selma.  That's what we need. 

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