Protest led by students and Nashville Jewish community calls for Nashville to end support for ICE

At a protest in North Nashville on Monday, attendees came together to protest a nearby ICE field office


Shun Ahmed

Protestors hold signs with messages including “Abolish Ice,” “Close the Camps” and “Families Belong Together” on Monday, Aug. 19.

Eva Durchholz, News Editor

With the help of Vanderbilt students and national organizers Never Again Action, nearly 100 people gathered on Monday morning to protest the actions of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

In a field at the intersection of Ewing Drive and Brick Church Pike, a group – consisting predominantly of members of the Jewish community, including Rabbis, allies and Nashville Metro councilmember Fabian Bedne – waved signs, sang songs and spoke about their common goal: convincing Metro Nashville to stop supporting ICE. 

Bedne spoke about how the issues of immigration and identity-based persecution were personal to him because his grandparents had fled antisemitism in Eastern Europe. 

The protest drew controversy over the implications of comparing ICE actions to the Holocaust, as expressed in a guest editorial in The Hustler. Never Again Action, a Jewish-led organization which planned the Nashville protest and others across the country, specifically invokes the comparisons, stating their goal as preventing “anything like the Holocaust” from happening again. 

A banner that reads “Never Again” in English, Spanish, and Hebrew is held by protestors. (Photo by Shun Ahmed)

According to Rachel Rosenberg, a junior who helped organize the protest, Never Again Action came together because their ancestors have been persecuted for their identities, and that they don’t want that happening to another group of people.

“No one is saying that it’s exactly like the Holocaust – just coming from the Jewish perspective, it’s an infringement on human rights” Rosenberg said. 

At the protest, Rabbi Shana Mackler read the names of 13 people who have died in ICE custody in the past year. ICE reports that only six adults have died in their custody in the past year, but other sources such as the American Immigation Lawyers Association and VICE have reported more deaths, including a disputed number of deaths of children

A sign that reads “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights” is held by a protestor. (Photo by Shun Ahmed)

Senior Nico Gardner gave a speech, first in Spanish and then in English, about what it means to be Latinx in America. He discussed how to reconcile living in a country which deports and detains Latinx people and also elected a president which refers to Latinx people as an invasion. 

“When we look into the eyes of migrants held against their wills, we see the eyes of our families staring back at us,” Gardner said. “We refuse to back down before an immigration system inciting violence and death against immigrant peoples and marginalized communities”

Gardner also spoke about inhumane conditions at detention facilities, including children kept in cages, infants kept in soiled diapers and children separated from their families. Gardner emphasized that the protesters were standing up to homeland security’s field office in Nashville, which was less than a half mile from the site of the protest.

“To the leaders of Nashville-Davison, to Mayor Briley, to Sheriff Hall: As long as the county honors this agreement with ICE, you are participating in a system that disregards the humanity of black, brown, queer and trans migrants. It is time to actually protect migrant communities. We demand that you cancel the contract,” Gardner said, to cheers from the crowd. 

“Liberation, by definition, is intersectional and must contain a multitude of voices and experiences. Until all of us are free, none of us are free. We have to fight, and we will win.”