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Occupy SMA


By Jim Carey

US history is replete with horror stories of children separated from their parents. In the Maryland State Archives Legacy of Slavery in Maryland database’s archives, Desiree Lee tells us, “Black Slaves went to great lengths to keep their families together, but there were often limits to what they could do.” Charles Ball described the separation between his mother and himself after being sold at auction: “My poor mother, when she saw me leaving her for the last time, ran after me, took me down from the horse, clasped me in her arms, and wept loudly and bitterly over me.”

When I lived in New Mexico, I heard about the Dawes Act of 1887, which forced American Indians to abandon communal property for individual family-based farms. Tens of thousands of Indian children were taken from their families and put into government-funded boarding schools, where they were forced to change their names, learn English, dress in Western-style clothing, and (often) convert to Christianity—all in the name of a civilizing mission, which Richard Henry Pratt, head of the first boarding school, summarized in this way: “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” As late as the 1960’s, Indian children ran from those schools in the winter cold—some of them freezing to death in the process.

In New York in the late 1800s, groups such as the NY Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, acting out of cultural and racial chauvinism and confusing poverty and cultural differences, removed immigrant children from their families. They acted with an assumption about assimilation—that they knew what was in the best interest of the families they were tearing apart. The 1999 documentary Children of the Camps highlighted the trauma Japanese-American children faced while being detained with their grief-stricken parents.

On Monday, Occupy SMA will hear the latest voices of the weeping—the separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border. We will also listen to a video of Jennifer Harbury, a human rights lawyer who has lived in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas for over 40 years and has been active in the response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. She represents people who are applying for political asylum and knows the difficulty they are experiencing at the border. Join our discussion. All are welcome. Our events are free.


Meeting and Film

Occupy SMA presents

The Cruelty of Weeping Times: Immigration Detention

Mon, Jul 16, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

TV room

Loreto 15, Centro



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