HACKENSACK, NJ — This weekend in Hackensack, protesters gathered in support of the hunger strikers detained by ICE inside the Bergen County Jail, as they have throughout the month the strike has lasted. These peaceful protesters were met with violence by a militarized police force. The excessive militarization of local police to suppress peaceful dissent, the racialized terror and violence they inflict, and the role they play in facilitating the ICE detention and deportation apparatus, all show why we need to defund the police.
Hunger strikers protesting their detention by ICE are routinely retaliated against and lied about by officials, and such retaliation has been extended to the solidarity demonstrators. While the Bergen County sheriff spins false stories about the protestors, as has Hudson County executive Tom DeGise about protests outside his home for the renewed ICE contract, North Jersey DSA rejects these fraudulent narratives. Our members have been on the ground in Hackensack, Jersey City, and everywhere ICE is protested in North Jersey, and we can attest: these actions have been peaceful and led by our own communities.
“This is the kind of movement building that is sending a powerful message to our communities on how we can stop the atrocities of ICE. As an Ecuadorian immigrant who has had family members detained because of their immigration status, I was inspired to see an area I have driven by numerous times growing up — to visit my mom at work a few blocks away, take the bus at the nearby station to go to work, buy groceries and eat with family– become a space of solidarity and strength in a way that I have never seen before, it’s moving.” reflected NNJ DSA co-chair Jorge Maldonado.
Yet when people came out in peaceful solidarity with the hunger strikers at the Bergen county jail, they were met with an outsized number of police in riot gear ready to use violence without hesitation. The violence enacted by the Bergen County police was in stark contrast to the peaceful protest and makes it very clear who and what the police serve to protect.
Bergen County has revealed that protecting profits made from incarcerating undocumented people in terrible conditions supersedes basic human rights. Bergen County and its police force have demonstrated that the rights of citizens and attempts at dissent will be forcibly quashed. It is a textbook study in police existing to serve corporate interests over human rights, in this case prioritizing ICE contracts whose primary purposes are to perpetuate the bloated correctional infrastructure in Bergen, Hudson, and Essex counties. That’s why we need to reallocate their funds to public needs as in schools, housing, jobs and ensuring that not a single human being goes hungry.
North Jersey DSA demands that we use the budgets of the police to enrich the people, not the interests of capital. New Jersey needs to end its ICE contracts and all ICE collaboration, and also defund the police.
Comrades like Ridgewood for Black Liberation, who have done amazing work organizing in Bergen County, have met this violence with peace, and we applaud their work. We stand with all people opposing ICE inside and outside ICE detention.