A group which has compared the United States's immigration policy to the Holocaust protested a company which operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities on Monday.
Never Again Action held a demonstration at the Florida headquarters of GEO Group, a contractor which operates several ICE facilities, according to WPTV. Never Again Action, a mostly Jewish organization, has compared the United States's treatment of migrants to the Nazis' treatment of Jews and others during the Holocaust.
"Read the Torah, read Lamentations," said Charlie Nolan, Never Again Action organizer. "The story of Judaism is the story of being refugees time and time again and suffering because we were refugees time and time again. If you don't have empathy for these people, you don't have empathy for your own ancestors and that's a tragedy."
"They are profiting off of blood money and destroying families," said Alexis Butler, another organizer, about GEO Group. "They are the main perpetrators of family separation."
Protesters held signs reading "Blood Money" and chanted "Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here!"
A person present at the demonstration told the Washington Free Beacon that protesters called out several of the company's senior employees by name in an apparent bid to intimidate them. After reading the name of one employee, a protester who appeared to be leading the others also referenced that employee's address, the church they attend, and the fact they knew where their children lived.
GEO Group offered a statement prior to the protest.
"The dishonest narrative and lies that are being spread about the services our company provides is based on the same false rhetoric that has led to the endangerment of our employees, of government employees, and the public. We have been a trusted service provider to the federal government for over three decades, under Democratic and Republican Administrations, and in that time, we have never played a role in setting immigration policy nor have we ever advocated for or against immigration enforcement policies," a spokesperson said.
The Coalition for Jewish Values condemned the protest.
"The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today condemned the planned ‘Never Again Action Noise Rally' intended to disrupt operations on Monday at a federal contractor that helps process undocumented immigrants entering the United States. The event announcement refers to ‘Never Again' and ‘deportation,' a combination designed to evoke images of Jews shipped in cattle cars to the murderous death camps of the Nazi era. The CJV called the event ‘a trivialization of the Holocaust and utterly contrary to authentic Jewish values.'"
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, eastern regional vice president of the coalition, called the planned protest "offensive."
"It's offensive in so many ways that one loses count," Pruzansky said. "It maligns the targeted company and its employees, defames ICE agents, displays woeful ignorance of history, trivializes and distorts the Holocaust, and is a vulgar insult to six million murdered Jews and the survivors of that horror. The fact that many of the protesters will be Jewish themselves merely makes it worse."
Never Again Action organizer Sophie Ellman-Golan has defended the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as not inherently anti-Semitic.
For many, Zionism is Jewish self-determination. That is not how Palestinians have experienced it, and I think we have to be real about that.
Re BDS: it’s a tactic—one I’ve seen employed in antisemitic ways, and in not antisemitic ways. But tactic isn’t inherently antisemitic.
— Sophie Ellman-Golan (@EgSophie) November 5, 2018
Never Again Action organizers have also worked with left-wing Jewish groups Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and IfNotNow. IfNotNow seeks to "end American Jewish support for the occupation." A statement on the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice website criticizes the political right for conflating BDS with anti-Semitism.
Updated 5:56 p.m.: This article was updated to say protesters shouted personal information about some GEO employees and their family members.