LAWTON, Oklahoma (AP) – More than 100 demonstrators protested last Saturday in withering heat outside an Oklahoma Army base against the Trump administration’s plans to detain migrant children there.
Japanese Americans and Native Americans are among those who took part in last Saturday’s march to Fort Sill and rally in front of one of its entrances, briefly blocking a city street. They chanted “Close the camps” and carried signs with messages including “Human Rights Matter”, ‘‘Love Trumps Hate,” and “Liberty and Justice For All”.
The protest follows a similar rally held on June 22 at Fort Sill, which was used by the federal government to house hundreds of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II and Apache prisoners of war from 1894-1910. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement recently announced plans to temporarily detain up to 1,400 migrant children at the base near Lawton, which is about 130 kilometres southwest of Oklahoma City.
Fort Sill was also used to house migrant children in 2014 during the Obama administration.
Though a street was briefly blocked, Fort Sill spokeswoman Monica Guthrie said there was no disruption at the base.
“Our mission is still operating normally, normal hours. It’s a Saturday, so that helps,” Guthrie said. “On a weekend the operations tempo slows down dramatically.”
Guthrie referred questions about the blocked street to Lawton police, who did not immediately return a phone call for comment. She referred all questions about the migrant children to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which also did not return a phone call or email for comment last Saturday.