Immediately following the 2016 election, voters across the country organized into units of what they called “the Resistance.” It wasn’t entirely clear just how the members of those groups planned to resist. It still isn’t.
Obviously, most are making efforts to register voters, to encourage turnout, and to spread information about the damage being done by this administration. Naysayers–some of whom post comments to this blog–criticize these efforts as inadequate, although it isn’t always clear what other steps they are proposing.
I have friends who have traveled to the border to assist the humanitarian organizations working there, and I applaud them, but most of us have job and family obligations that prevent us from joining g those efforts. Consequently, there are significant numbers of frustrated citizens who would like to do more to resist this racist and destructive administration, but aren’t sure what actions are available and effective.
In a Nashville suburb, an ICE agent’a attempt to take a man into custody on Monday morning proved unsuccessful when the man’s neighbors formed a human chain.
An agent for the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Nashville’s WVTF Channel 5 (a CBS affiliate), attempted to detain the man in Hermitage, Tennessee, which is about ten miles from Downtown Nashville.
The man had entered his van with his son when the agent blocked them in, and neighbors responded by bringing them water and wet rags. After the neighbors formed a human chain, the man and his son were able to escape and enter their home — which the ICE agent was not authorized to enter.
The agent had an administrative warrant, which allows an ICE agent to detain someone but not to remove them from a home or vehicle by force. Unable to detain the man, the ICE agent left.
The incident was broadcast online by the man’s neighbors on Facebook Live.
After a four-hour attempted arrest — during which time the undocumented man and his young son barricaded themselves inside a van parked in front of their home — ICE agents left, and neighbors and activists on the scene created a human chain to allow the family to get indoors.
“At that point it was being extra cautious and letting the family know, look, we got your back, we’re between you and the unknown, and here’s a safe pathway back to your front door,” Tristan Call, a volunteer at Movements Including X(MIX), a collective of young activists who organize for social causes, tells TIME. Call was a part of the human chain.
By the time the attempted arrest was over, dozens of people had showed up to support the undocumented man, including two city councilmen from Nashville. The volunteers showed up as part of a network called ICE Rapid Response to protect undocumented immigrants, just one example of communities throughout the country who have responded to increasing threats of ICE arrests.
Evidently, neighbors who witnessed the attempted arrest sounded the alarm, reaching out to local activist groups, who then informed their networks.
Civil disobedience has a long history in the United States, mostly–albeit not always–for the good.
Episodes like this one–in which neighbors and good people gather to frustrate illegitimate efforts undertaken by their government–give me hope.
The Republicans in the House and Senate who are in thrall to the GOP’s white nationalist base may have been neutered, but the resistance of ordinary Americans, like this episode in (Red) Tennessee, give hope and encouragement to those of us who believe in a very different America than the one to which Trump and his base appeal.