News of migrant children housed at Fort Sill spurs protest plans

Updated: Jun. 18, 2019 at 7:02 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - A protest is planned for this weekend in Lawton following the news that Fort Sill will once again house a shelter for migrant children.

One organizer with Tsuru for Solidarity said they cannot just stand by when 1,400 asylum-seeking children from the southern border are placed into what they call concentration camps.

Organizers said this protest is especially important due to Fort Sill’s history of housing those seeking asylum back in 2014, as well as when immigrants and citizens of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned on post, and when indigenous children from numerous tribes were brought to boarding school on post.

“I think that it’s important to hold out a different image than one of separation and division in this country right now," said Michael Ishii, co-organizer of the Japanese American protest at Fort Sill. "We need to come together around protecting children.”

Tsuru for Solidarity protested earlier this year in Texas on a similar matter and received support from people in the lone star state. They are hoping they will get that same support here in Oklahoma.

“Children are the sacred trust,” said Ishii. “They’re not political, and they shouldn’t be used as political collateral. I think Americans know that. I think we know that in every state in this country and I think that’s why we’ve received a warm welcome wherever we’ve gone with our message.”

Tsuru for Solidarity is working with ACLU Oklahoma to help make this protest possible.

“Anytime there’s a protest, especially one political in nature like this, even though we expect it to be a peaceful protest, and the focus of it is very much sort of education and connecting the long history of internments, especially at Fort Sill, to what’s going on currently,” said Nicole McAfee, policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Oklahoma.

There has been a stall in planning, however, because of a necessary permit to protest in the city of Lawton.

“We’re trying to continue some conversations with folks at the city," said McAfee. "We hope that given the history here and the importance of telling the story and the fact that this is largely an older group who all have their own traumas, that they’ll be willing to work and make sure that they have a place to peacefully assemble.”

The protest is planned for Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meeting place is still to be determined. You can follow their Facebook page, Tsuru for Solidarity, for the latest updates.

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