BY TEQUILA MINSKY | Members of the progressive Jewish community in New York recently commemorated the Jewish day of mourning Tisha B’Av by taking to the streets to protest the current administration’s policy toward undocumented immigrants — and the help that it is getting from Amazon.
The fast day remembers the destruction of the Jewish temples. Reportedly well more than 200 Jewish activists participated in the “Close the Camps” demo on Aug. 11.
Personalized signs were made at nearby gay-and-lesbian synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Demonstrators walked to the Amazon Books store at 34th St. near Fifth Ave. to protest technology — including facial-recognition software — by Amazon that is being used by local and federal law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to track, identify and hunt down immigrants.
In New York City, police recently used facial-recognition technology to quickly find a homeless man who had left empty rice cookers in Lower Manhattan and Chelsea, creating a bomb scare.
This was a nationwide coordinated Jewish effort. On this day, protests were held in more than 50 locations around the country. Demonstrators packed the E. 34th St. Amazon store, sitting on the floor, and spilling onto the sidewalk when there was no more room, disrupting business. Forty were arrested.
Among the participating groups were T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; Bend the Arc; Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ); and C.B.S.T.
As the signs indicated, this was a very personal march. Many protesters lost family members in the Holocaust, and the issue of camps, family separation, and the refusal to offer refuge for those fleeing persecution is but one or two generations away from those who took to the streets in the August protests.