BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - Eight people were arrested outside a business in Bloomington, Minnesota during a protest over the Trump Administration’s immigration policies at the United States-Mexico border. State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis) was among those booked and released.
Activists from several different immigrant rights groups, including Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) and TakeAction Minnesota, gathered outside the General Dynamics Information Technology on the 8800 block of Queen Avenue South around 12:45 p.m. and erected a chain-link cage in reference to the facilities in which children are reportedly being held in at the border.
The protesters claimed General Dynamics is profiting off the federal government’s child separation policies. Veronica Mendez Moore, co-director of CTUL, said the groups did their research and found the company provides materials to build and maintain detention centers as well as support services to the family separation and detention process.
“We actually came here to General Dynamics because this is a corporation that is actually profiting off the misery of our families at the border,” Mendez Moore said.
On their website, General Dynamics says it has provided support to unaccompanied minors through its with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2000.
"General Dynamics Information Technology has no role in the family separation policy, nor a role in the construction or operation of detention facilities," the company said in a statement.
Protesters erected a cage in front of the company’s building and the eight people that were eventually arrested stood inside as part of a demonstration. The arrests were a planned part of the protest, according to Mendez Moore.
“What we did was we brought in a cage that is frankly not that dissimilar to where people are being detained on the border,” she said. “We lined it with toys and children’s clothing and signs with the names of children that we know are in these detention cages and had some folks that were willing to put their bodies on the line and risk arrests to highlight the critical situation right now.”
STATEMENT FROM BLOOMINGTON POLICE
"Yesterday evening our department was contacted by an organization spokesperson regarding a planned protest in Bloomington. They would not disclose the location but said a pre-determined number of participants would be arrested for civil disobedience on Friday afternoon. At 1:30 pm, we were contacted by General Dynamics, 8800 Queen Avenue S, regarding a large gathering at the entrance of their building. Police arrived on scene and gave orders for the crowd of 100 to leave the property. Those that refused to leave were eventually arrested for Trespassing."
LARGE WEEKEND MARCH PLANNED
Friday’s protest comes one day before another large immigration rights rally. Saturday’s march is one of several planned across the country for the Families Belong Together national day of action. It is expected to start at the Minneapolis Convention Center at 2 p.m.
Mendez Moore said Friday’s demonstration was equally as important as a march that draws hundreds of people.
“We need to go directly to these corporations that are making the money off of this and we need to disrupt their activities so that they can actually have more of an incentive to do the right thing instead of profiting off of terrorizing communities,” she said.