National vigil, One Million Flames makes its way to SF, calls to abolish ICE

One million flames. The name of a national vigil Friday night calling for the end of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  

Family separation was the flash point that ignited a movement on the streets and among politicians,to reform, if not replace the agency.  

In San Francisco, activists returned to the Sansome Street building that is the nexus for Northern California immigration proceedings. 

They chanted, lit candles and shared testimonies.

They did not settle in, unlike last week, when the headquarters became an encampment, with tents stretching half a block to protest the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. 

"We came out because we want to support this movement and support the occupy movement," said

Andrew Tilley of Oakland, with his 14 month old son, Bash. 

"The thought of someone taking our child away and being separated from him is horrifying," said Tilley, "and it's a tragedy it really is."

Even after President Trump reversed his own separation policy, reunifications have been slow and indefinite detentions continue.

Those issues, plus the widespread removal of non-criminal migrants, has a growing number of Democrats supporting a retooled, if not dismantled, ICE.  

The proposal has Republican leadership gleeful, because in the November election, they welcome ICE as a campaign issue. 

"It was only created in the aftermath of September 11, " said protestor Stefani Echeverria-Fenn, " so when they say, 'oh my God, we can't abolish ICE', it's not like trying to abolish the Supreme Court, it's only been present for a tiny sliver of time."

Echeverria-Fenn is a 31 year old history teacher from Oakland.

She was part of the "Occupy ICE" camp when San Francisco Police tore it down July 9. 

39 campers were cited.  

"I have bruises on my arm," said Echeverria-Fenn, claiming officers tackled her unprovoked, and caused her contact lens to gouge her.  

"I have a ruptured blood vessel in my eye, " she said, charging officers with treating campers like "violent anarchists" when they were peaceful.  

During Friday night's vigil, a few officers arrived at ICE headquarters to make sure the front door was not blocked. 

They were greeted with hostility.  

"Cops and klan, hand in hand, cops and clan, hand in hand," chanted the group derisively. 

Activists note there are a handful of encampments persisting at ICE facilities around the country. 

They resent that SFPD busted theirs up. 

"I guess they're in cahoots with ICE," said protestor Martha Hubert of San Francisco, " but they should not be working together. This is a sanctuary city. And we want to keep it that way."

Although the camp is gone, a nightly vigil is held at 630 Sansome Street from 9- 10 pm, to press for immigration reform.