Sermon audio – Lessons from El Paso – Rev. DL Helfer
This is the latest posting on Rev. DL Helfer’s blog, More Together Than Alone (https://moretogetherthanalone.wordpress.com/)
Friday, March 29, 2019
Last night, I stood with at least one hundred others, singing, chanting, and making noise. We wanted those inside Wyatt to know we were there — for them. The people inside banged on their windows, flashed lights, held up glowing phones to the window, and showed handmade signs.
We were separated, we and our siblings inside that building, by not one but two layers of razor wire, and a lane for the large white government-issue vans that kept circling the facility as though the people inside pose a danger.
In reality, the opposite is true. The people inside the building are the innocents and this society is the perpetrator.
The facility, known as “Wyatt,” is located in Central Falls, RI, near Providence, RI. It’s a long-established city with strong neighborhoods and civic pride. A few decades ago, the then-major entered into a much-hated deal to build a prison across the street from the high school. The building was built, and prisoners held inside. Rumors abounded about the horrible treatment, and finally, after an individual died while held there, Wyatt was closed.
Until a few weeks ago. When under the dark of night, Wyatt and ICE placed more than 100 asylum seekers there. We have no idea who they are or why they’re placed here – because no access is being granted.
Last night, the Major and City Council of Central Falls held a public meeting. In it they did the right thing – they reported that the deal between Wyatt and ICE was not known to the City, much less approved by it. Mayor Diossa and the City Council committed to not only taking every legal action possible to end this backroom deal, but also to #shutdownwyatt.
And that’s what we will do. Shut down — and then hopefully tear down – Wyatt.
But first, our work is to stand with those most affected, and be in solidarity until their freedom is granted.
This work will take presence at Wyatt. It will take pressure on legislators. But the City is leading the charge, AMOR/Alliance to Mobilize our Resistance and other community-based organizations are leading this mobilization for change.
I ask that you join us.
The fight for our humanity, it’s here, as real as it can be. In our backyard. If you’ve asked “what can I do,” do this.
I wish you could have seen siblings desperate, pounding on windows for an hour in rage, fear, desperation. I wish you could have seen people yearning to be free.
We can make it so. And we must.
– Rev. DL Helfer