Updated: Jun 20, 2022
This morning, my mom asked me if I thought that being on the left meant being pessimistic, focusing on the negative, and always complaining. I told her that to be on the left is to see the many injustices of the world—to be realistic about the struggles and the hardship we face. But it also means that we are hopeful. Without hope that we can build a better future, there would be nothing to fight for. Some may see us as always complaining about the vast injustices, but I also see a vibrant and loving community that is working hard to create something better for everyone.
This conversation made me think of Camp Free Them All, where folks have built a community from the ground up outside of the ICE concentration camp in Aurora, CO. Leah is well known around camp: she turned seven years old recently, and has been camping with her mother and grandmother since day one. Her dad has been detained there for over six months, and he narrowly avoided deportation the other day. There are many vast, deep emotions that come with this awful situation. But Leah still finds way to make her family and us campers smile.
A moment during my first night staying at camp has stuck with me lately. We were walking over to the gate for the nightly 8pm vigil, and Leah was on her scooter. She came up to me and a friend, and asks if I can go get her a bottle of water from camp. “Ice cold please!” and she scoots off. I had not been introduced to Leah yet, but I knew who she was. I laughed as we walked back to camp to retrieve a water bottle.
What struck me about this is that Leah did not know me. But what she did know, consciously or not, is that the camp was there for her. That a safe community was erected in a field next to a prison, one where she knew people would look after her. And that is just so damn beautiful. There are frequent moments like this when you stay at camp—moments where the pain in the world seems to diminish a little as you find common ground among new friends, share a meal, and lend a hand in keeping camp running. There is beauty in helping your fellow humans. I encourage each of you to visit this special place and show your support for the families struggling with this inhumane crisis.
The system has been crafted to hold us down. It is designed that way, and has been functioning that way for many years. But during all of that violent oppression, community members have always come together to uplift one another. The police state which we find ourselves in has never really cared for us. We have always cared for each other, and we will continue to look after our people.
We will not stop fighting for you and your family, Leah. None are free until we all are free, and no one is illegal on stolen land.
Camp Free Them All is operated by Abolish ICE Denver and supported by Sanctuary for All, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and others. Folks have been camped there every day since May 21st, 2020. We are camping until all detainees are freed.