Condemns BART Closures, ICE Raids, Collaboration with Local Law Enforcement
San Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) vigorously supports the youth who rallied today in support of immigrant rights and against recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that have terrorized their communities. The NLGSF deplores BART's station closures which prevented hundreds of East Bay high school students from reaching the demonstration today at Immigration and Customs Enfocement (ICE) headquarters in downtown San Francisco.
The NLGSF is providing legal observers and other forms of legal support to today's "Stop the Raids" protest in San Francisco.
"These are young people who care about their communities and their loved ones," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. "Our legal support team first heard about the BART closures this morning and we think it is unfortunate that our public transit system took such extreme measures, preventing these young people from exercising their First Amendment rights."
Among other incidents, the youth activists were reacting to raids that occurred on October 22. In the course of the raids ICE officers violently invaded eleven residences in the Bay Area, setting off explosive devices, pointing high-powered weapons at children, and detaining a number of individuals on immigration charges unrelated to criminal activity. "Operation Devil Horns" allegedly helped federal immigration officials detain and file charges against 13 people who may have been part of a violent street gang. The tactics used - explosive devices, heavy weaponry, and a total lack of respect for children and innocent bystanders - must be deplored. The fact that local police were involved is very troubling. "The federal government may consider these children collateral damage, but we expect better from our local law enforcement," said Villarreal.
While the Lawyers Guild recognizes the serious problem of violence in certain Bay Area communities, we do not believe that vicious raids, gang injunctions, surveillance cameras, and inhumane gang task forces are the proper solution. These tactics are being used throughout the Bay Area, and the reaction by student activists today is completely justified.
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color at that time. The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States, and includes law students and legal workers in its membership. The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter has over 900 members from San Jose to Sacramento.