Friday, December 15, 2006


Swift Meat Packing Plants

I haven't read a lot about these raids. This is from Tim Smith, who has been involved in questioning the detention center installation on the mudflats here.
My personal take is that generally people are using immigrant labor because they don't have to deal with unions, or labor law with these people. In short, it is about finding a population that they can abuse. You will note that none of the officers of the Swift Corporation have (to my knowledge) been charged with anything. You may also observe how blatantly racist the actions of the officers concerned in this article are (although the spotlight shown on them shows an interest from the observer). I think that the wrong questions have been fielded about this entire debate, concerning folks coming across the border with no papers.
Steve Nebel

PS - I think this could be a very good conversation, but definitely would call for someone with some more in depth knowledge of the subject matter than I have.

Here are observations of a couple of Minnesota immigration attorneys.
I pass this on because it is useful when raids hit our areas:

After the Swift raids yesterday, the local ICE office provided the
chapter here in Minnesota with a toll free hotline to call for family
members of people who may have been detained yesterday: 866-341-3858

I don't know how well this is working. But this could be used
nationally for this type of situation.

ICE Press releases claim this was a targeted enforcement operation
with spokesman Tim Counts claiming it was not a "raid." This is not
what we saw yesterday.

The raid started about 8:30 with ICE and state troopers limiting
access and exit from the plant. ICE met with senior management of
Swift who then started to pull people off the kill floor. They were
directed to the cafeteria where 50-70 ICE agents were at. People were
immediately asked if they were citizens, if they had papers. Some
people were handcuffed immediately. Witnesses state that white
workers were allowed to claim USC status and directed away

People of color who claimed to be USC had to prove it. We spoke to
one USC who was detained in plastic handcuffs for several hours;
witnesses have identified two other naturalized citizens who had the
same happen. We were told that one USC remains in custody. Numerous
LPRs, TPS, etc..., were detained for at least hours in plastic cuffs.
Some had their LPR card in their locker, others left it at home. One
woman said her purse had been stolen at work before, so she left her
card at home because it was difficult and expensive to replace. This
operation did not target individuals suspected of "identity theft" or
involvement in false document rings. It swept up every non-white
worker at Swift.

We spoke to one family where both parents of a 2,3, and 12 year old
were detained. Other primary caregivers were detained when children
had health issues. ICE denied entrance to the plant to one person
with Honduran TPS, whose EAD was expired, but whose automatic
extension made her EAD good until Jan. 2007. The show of force was
overwhelming. After initial interview in the cafeteria, people were
interviewed in room and processed. The room had 15-20 ICE agents in
it, 5 more flanking the exit door, and 50 more in line in the hallway
right outside the door. John Connelly, of Washington DC ICE, told us
that everyone was "free to go"if they requested --- didn't appear
that way to us. It was a very coercive environment. Once cuffed,
people were yelled at to sit down. If they complained about the ties
hurting, they were told to sit comfortably. We saw numerous people,
including LPRs, with red marks and contusions on their wrists hours
after they were released.

Lawyers got a number of people released who had children, children
with health issues etc.... 30 were processed and released with NTAs
at the plant itself. We still think 200-300 were detained, many taken
to Iowa.

Anyone doing these cases should think of a Motion to Suppress. We
will have many good statements to support an argument this was a
racially biased operation, violating 4th amendment rights, with lots
of unlawful detention and potential for confusion and untrustworthy
information during interrogation.

Bruce Nestor and Susana De Leon

Monday, December 11, 2006

Conversation Recap for December 10, 2006

OK, folks here it is--be aware that text in color represents hotlinks to websites with more info. Enjoy!

We heard another fabulous story this week This time it was John. Once again we are reminded how wonderfully fascinating our lives truly are.

We were introduced to a couple of new folks—a student from Dexter’s class who first got introduced to the Conversation through his orientation as a new student at UPS and a colleague of Pam’s who’s joining us for the first time. We hope both of them will become regular members of our group.

We talked a bit about the horrendous injustice behind the incredibly high incarceration rates in the U.S., especially of Black males. Dexter shred just a bit of the data (more here):
· US is leader in the world --737/100k are incarcerated- 100/100k av’g in world
· 7 million people 1 in 32 adults behind bars, or subject to justice system.
· 2.2 million in jail
· 1998 1 in 3 Af Am men 19-29 tied up in US justice system.
· Over 50% jail population is black and brown.
· 1 in 50 adults currently or permanently lost voting rights

Pam and Addie both spoke of the stress and pain of raising their Black sons in a culture that targets them and of what this paranoia often does to the ways in which they treat their sons.

Dexter raised the question for us all to think about-- Can this democracy continue? In 1980’s white America went into a moral panic—“world is going to hell in a handbasket” What’s solution? Get tough on crime—lock them up. No one could get elected without repeating tough on crime—most locking up is for drugs.

MLK Event

Next we discussed the proposal some of us in the Conversation are working on for an MLK event. Conversation is lead entity along with Associated Ministries and Urban Grace Church.

Dexter shared a document outlining the vision and lots of discussion and brainstorming followed. We asked Conversation members to participate in planning, fundraising and event itself. Dexter thinks we can raise the 8-10k and really make it a premier event. Funds will pay for printing, publicity and stipends for people in program.

Tom and Sue S. will head up fundraising piece- Sue: the thing that can make this possible, use our contacts—who do we know who would like to get involved, such as corporate. We should all ask ourselves who we know in marketing at any companies. They often have marketing dollars they need to spend, especially at this time of year—have to spend their $. They also have Federal Community Reinvestment rules at banks. Lots of other ideas ere floated that have been passed on to the planning committee.

Keith volunteered to head up the food committee.

We got a short update from Dexter relayed from Tom on the Shakabra incident. Tom and others met with the ownership and apparently there is movement in a positive direction on resolving the issue. More from Tom et. al. when they return to the Conversation next week.

There was some more discussion of group and meeting structure following a sharing of the Conversation Document—a description of the history and current structure with some tweaking based on input from the discussion of the previous week. We agreed to post the document on the blog so as to continue the dialogue there. There was some discussion about the 1 or 2 story each week issue with no firm decision reached. Again, folks should continue the dialogue on the blog. Dexter we need to honor that a hand raised will be honored first and those who have not spoken will be honored before those who have a second chance. Luke suggested that the same etiquette be honored in the small groups as well.

We also talked about the idea of a “Paint & Grout” element to our group in which those that need to move, paint their house, etc. could have a pool of helpers from which to draw. Dorothy volunteered to coordinate the P&G efforts and Allegra volunteered to assist. Folks who need help—get the info with particulars of where and when, and Dorothy will get the word out to the group so folks can step up.

We also discussed kids in the group as Amy and Tully bring their 2 young daughters and wondered if anyone felt at all as if they were a distraction. We gave a resounding NO—we honor their presence. Then there was some discussion about programming for the young among us while also acknowledging that just hanging with the grown-ups teaches a lot.


Dorothy-YWCA Adopt-a-Family. While out shopping, bring a gift and Dorothy will bring. Unwrapped and non-violent please.

Tacoma Art Museum Event around Aminah Robinson’s art this Tues.

Latino Group at Lincoln H.S. performance of Pasada- a Xmas celebration Next Fri at 7pm at Lincoln where old Mt. T is Cafeteria Cultural Congress (arts orgs across state)

Luke recommended a panel be convened at the Broadway Center to talk about race and the arts that could include Conversation members, i.e., Dexter, Magda and Diane - Late April, possisbly.

Focus group probable by Broadway Center on programming in future, Djembe Soul—He’d like Conversation to be a part.

Sat. Dec. 15 anniversary of Bill of rights ACLU has celebration. 7pm WA History Museum.

Jan 6th Steve and Kristi Nebel benefit concert for citizens hearing on the war and the case of Eren Watada Antique at 7:30 fundraiser for TESC event, CITIZENS’ HEARING ON THE LEGALITY OF U.S. ACTIONS IN IRAQ on January 20-21, 2007.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March film. Jan 11th WA History Museum Reception at 5pm; program at 5:30. Slam poetry by Josh Reisberg.
Sallie—paint seniors homes, maybe conversation could get involved. Also think about neighbors who might be eligible.

We were treated to a hip hop piece by Noah to end our time together.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conversation Document-Please Comment

The following was handed out at today's conversation meeting. We hope everyone will join the dialogue and comment.

The Conversation
Where talk IS action
Visit our blog at


The Conversation is a group of Tacoma and South Sound residents committed to the building of a diverse, critically engaged, social justice community for the task of procuring for ourselves and our communities a better life. With "Justice for All" as its foundational principle, the group has two primary foci; providing encouragement and support for social justice activists and promoting justice in such areas as legal system, wages, housing, healthcare, and education.
We aim to address justice through two essential and interrelated questions. The first is philosophical; What is the meaning of our lives--our relationship to each other, the world, the universe? The second is political and practical; What are our immediate socio-political responsibilities toward creating and promoting justice in a world stained by bigotry based on issues such as race, sex, class, and religion?

January 1, 2006, at the request of the leadership of Urban Grace--A Downtown (Tacoma, WA) Church-- Dexter Gordon started teaching Martin Luther King’s second book, Why We Can’t Wait to an adult Sunday school class. As a result of word of mouth and other publicity efforts, primarily by Rosalind Bell and other members of the class, on their own initiative, approximately fifty people, who are not members of Urban Grace, attended all or some portions of the class. Some persons in the class expressed a desire to see the class continue beyond the scheduled ending time. Eventually, tensions and disagreements between the leadership of the church and the group led to the group moving from the church, first to King Books, then to the Washington State History Museum, to the YWCA, and to its present location at Evergreen Tacoma.

Each Sunday, doors will open at 8:30-coffee, chitchat and settling in will occur between 8:30 and 9.

Members of the leadership team will arrive by 8:45.
We will begin at 9.
Each day’s program will be structured as follows:
Welcome & Introductions
Personal Stories
Moral Philosophical Question –Lecture
Small Group Discussion
Plenary Discussion
Announcements & Closing

The group is guided by a voluntary leadership team called The V Team. Membership is open to all.

The V Team is responsible for the following:

General development

The V Team is governed by the following:
Successive (Each leader will develop a successor)
The leader will be the person in the forefront of a role for a year with the successor as an associate. Thereafter the associate will assume the leadership role and a volunteer will be invited to become the new associate.
Volunteer leadership team so far:

Dexter Gordon - Conversation Facilitator
Associate -
Tom Hilyard - Political Mappigator
Associate -
Rosalind Bell - Purveyor of Arts, Letters and Epicurean Delights
Associate - Dianne powers
Laurie Arnold - Town Crier
Associate - Marla German
Jennine Matt - Media Coordinator
Associate -
Julia Harris - Finance & Budget Manager
Associate - Mona Baghdadi
Magdalena Nieves - Development
Associate -


We welcome anyone interested in promoting social justice to become a part of The Conversation. We frame our relationship as a healthily functioning family--we should be able to challenge one another, ask on another the hard questions and still love one another--still be committed to one another, just as family members are. And as a family, we strive to provide intellectual, moral, emotional, and spiritual support. We are mindful that people from different religious traditions and from no religious traditions share our commitment to social justice and we welcome and embrace all with a an awareness that our founding is grounded in the Christian prophetic tradition of liberation.


The Conversation is financed by voluntary contributions from those who attend its meetings.