Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Immigrant rights advocates marched to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

Immigrant rights advocates marched to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma on Saturday, July 20, 2019. (Photo: United We Dream via Twitter)

'Close the Camps!': Protesters March Against Trump's Plan to Imprison Migrant Kids at Site of Japanese, Indigenous Incarceration

Fort Sill was the site of one of the nation's Japanese American internment camps during World War II, decades after it was the site of imprisoned native communites

Andrea Germanos

Hundreds of activists rallied in over 100° heat in Lawton, Oklahoma on Saturday to demand the Trump administration stop the incarceration of asylum-seeking children.

"Close the camps!" the crowd of protesters shouted on their march to Fort Sill.

While the broad array of groups behind the action, including United We Dream, have voiced outrage over the detention camps broadly, the administration's plan to recycle Fort Sill as a detention site for roughly 1,400 migrant children currently at Customs and Border Patrol facilities in Texas—as soon as next month—has generated specific concerns given military post's history, spurring several protests already.

As the Close the Camps website says in call-to-action,

Fort Sill is the same place where 700 Japanese Americans were detained and tortured during World War II. This is the same location where indigenous people of the Apache nation were imprisoned, and separated from their families while generations of indigenous youth were forced to assimilate at the fort's boarding school.

Writer and law professor Mari Matsuda recently wrote of the site's dark past well, noting, 

"This is not who we are" is belied by the history of the military base. Located on the plains to impose order in a time of settler ascendency, Fort Sill presided over the displacement of native people. The great Apache chief Geronimo and families from his tribe were imprisoned for years at Fort Sill—the first instance of child incarceration there.

"Fort Sill is not an anomaly, but it is a reminder of the ongoing violences of settler colonialism, racism, and xenophobia that have defined far too much of our nation's history," Densho, an organization that fosters education about the WWII internment camps, said last week.

"We must stop repeating history," said the ACLU of Oklahoma in a tweet promoting Saturday's action.

The protesters also focused on Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican. They are demanding he stop enabling Trump's anti-immigrant agenda and get ICE out of Oklahoma, according to a press statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

"Now we see our speaking up is not enough," Tom Ikeda, exuctive director of Densho, said recently. "We have to start going to the streets."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Docs Show DHS Watchdog Delayed Telling Congress About Deleted Secret Service Texts

The Project on Government Oversight says the records reveal a pattern of Inspector General Joseph Cuffari "rejecting proposals to inform Congress about the Secret Service's resistance to oversight."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Dictatorship Never Again': Massive Pro-Democracy Protests Sweep Brazil

"Democracy involves changing the government and eliminating neo-fascism," said one prominent protester, "but above all, ensuring that the working class, the people, have the rights guaranteed in the Constitution."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Door to Real Progress': Jayapal Makes Case for House Passage of the IRA

"It's an achievement we can all feel excited about—especially when we dig into the details," said the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Julia Conley ·


Officers Kill Gunman Who Tried to Breach FBI Office in Ohio

Though the suspect's identity and potential motivations are not known, the attack follows fear of far-right retaliation for this week's federal search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Jessica Corbett ·


House Dems Urge Biden to Provide Assistance to Cuba Amid Fire Disaster

"Now is the time," said Reps. Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, and Gregory Meeks, to "prioritize humanitarian engagement, environmental protection, and regional cooperation."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo