Revolution#135, July 13, 2008

L.A. Immigration Raid

“They treated us just like the soldiers treat the people in Iraq”

It’s 4:00 a.m. on a hot summer night, June 25, 2008. The streets leading into a small four to six block Mexican immigrant neighborhood are blocked off, and more than 500 agents, including ten SWAT teams, carry out what the U.S. Attorney describes as “the largest gang take-down in recent L.A. history.” Twenty-eight people are arrested.

An elderly woman angrily described to Revolución what happened with her family. The police started breaking down the door in her apartment. Her daughter opened the door before they broke it. They pointed guns at everyone’s heads and made them put their arms in the air. This woman has high blood pressure and couldn’t raise her arms so they pointed the gun at her forehead. The police made everybody go outside and they ransacked the house. They made everybody hold numbers and then took pictures of them. They arrested her grandson and a homeless man who lived nearby. Other residents talked about hearing explosions as doors in the neighborhood were busted open.

Eighteen agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, DEA, Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ICE, FBI, IRS, and the Glendale Police Department took part in a ten-month investigation that led to the raid. The Los Angeles Times reported that the reason for the raid was to “break the gang’s [Drew Street clique’s] grip on the low-income neighborhood.” The gang had gained some notoriety recently after a shoot-out with a rival gang and with the police in February. But the other fact noted by the LA Times is that the neighborhood is heavily Latino, includes many undocumented immigrants, and there is a “fierce solidarity and loathing for the police” among the people who live there, many of whom come from the same Mexican state of Guerrero.

This raid is taking place in an atmosphere where undocumented immigrants are being painted with a criminal brush and where more politicians, even so-called liberal ones, are calling for the arrest and deportation of “criminal aliens.”

The elderly woman looks at the photographs in Revolución of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and says, “They treated us just like the soldiers treat the people in Iraq.”

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