Hundreds took to the street Sunday to march from Boyle Heights to City Hall in protest of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies. A drone video showed as protesters marched on foot (along with several cars) across the First Street bridge to downtown Los Angeles, carrying signs that read “Abolish ICE” and “Cage Trump, not the kids.”
The “Free Our Kids in Cages” march was organized and promoted on social media, in an effort to bring attention to immigrant children in detainment being held and separated from their parents by ICE.
But the march was also criticized by some that said that it was an attempt to take the focus away from the Black Lives Matter movement.
One of the march’s organizer was rapper Klever. from the music group Brownside, who said the idea for the protest came from wanting to utilize the Black Lives Matter movement momentum across the country to push for addressing issues faced by “la Raza.”
“Us brown people matter too. and I say that respectfully and in support of Black Lives Matter,” Klever said. “I’m all for Black and Brown unity, but people need to show up for us as much as we’re showing up for them. We need to mobilize around what’s happening to our kids”
While Klever and other organizers said they support the BLM movement, the group faced a large backlash on social media days before the protest. Some on Twitter and Instagram said the “Kids in Cages” organizers were trying to co-opt Black Lives Matter and called them out on social media for posts they considered divisive, like this:
A twitter thread by @comechuchovos accused the march of being centered on the Mexican experience and not inclusive of Central Americans, and that organizers acted out of “jealousy over Black lives being prioritized.”
The thread went on to say that these protests “do very little to shed light on those most affected by ICE and Border Patrol” and make immigration a solely Mexican issue which ignores Black and Indigenous peoples.
Others pointed out that statements like “Brown Lives Matter” ignore the fact that many Latinos are also black or Afro descendent.
Similar criticisms have been made against other protests that have recently taken place in Boyle Heights, including one organized by Centro CSO, which was called out by some on Instagram for not doing enough to center Black voices.
Klever said that other organizers are currently working on planning similar marches in cities in New York, Texas and Colorado, and that he was personally working on “a nationwide march sooner than soon.”
“I’m not waiting any longer, ” he said. “We gotta keep going or else we won’t be heard and those kids will remain in those cages. “