Today, as I circled 26 Federal Plaza as part of New Sanctuary Coalition’s Jericho Walk, I held the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo in my heart. Through the rhythm of my breath and feet, I reached across the divides of time and space to honor and draw strength from their example. We have our own disappeared in this country, in our city. Their work must be our work now.
The Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo was formed in 1976, the year of my birth, as a response to the state terrorism that “disappeared” their children. They organized weekly marches in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, right next to the presidential palace. They wore white scarves as symbols of the diapers of their lost children. Some of them were disappeared themselves on death flights where they were drugged, stripped, and tossed from planes into the sea. Yet week after week they marched and kept marching until the Argentinian dictatorship crumbled and at last the government admitted wrong, brought the perpetrators to justice, named the disappeared, identified what remains could be found, and reunited divided families. Thirty years later, they ended their marches of resistance and began new ones, focused on other avenues of social justice.
It is one of the most extraordinary acts of sustained communal courage and strategic activism of which I’m aware. And though our contexts are different, I believe New Sanctuary’s Jericho Walks share the same goals, values, and strategy.
Just as the mothers marched right outside the center of the dictatorship’s power, the Jericho Walks surround the centers of ICE’s activity. Just like the mothers, these marches happen every week. Just like the mothers, the leaders of these marches have themselves faced the threat of being disappeared. Yet also, just like the mothers, these walks have disrupted the disappearances and put significant pressure on those in power to change.
I hope justice will come more quickly for all those disappeared by ICE. I hope it won’t take 30 years to abolish ICE. But learning from the example of the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo, I have absolute faith in the power and necessity of this work.
So please, come walk with us.