On Saturday, Nov. 16, a group of Kenyon students will travel to the Morrow County Jail in Mount Gilead, Ohio to protest the jail’s contract with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The trip is being organized by the student group Active Students Helping the Earth Survive (ASHES); they hope to create a safe and peaceful protest.
Students who were not able to join the group of 17 students who travelled to New York City to attend the asylum trial of Marco Saavedra ’11 will be able to show solidarity with immigrants on a more local level at the ASHES protest.
“We want to bring attention to this issue as it exists in Ohio because a lot of people just think it’s at the border and no, it’s right here, it’s in our backyard. It’s widespread and it’s 40 minutes away,” Helen Cunningham ’21, co-chair of ASHES, said.
ASHES also considered protesting at an ICE field office in Columbus or at Bedford Heights City Jail near Cleveland, but ultimately decided on Morrow County Jail due to its proximity to Kenyon and active detention of immigrants.
Cunningham and Graham Ball ’21, the other co-chair of ASHES, expressed two main goals for the event: to increase student awareness of these issues and to express solidarity for migrants. “Our hope is to get a dedicated group of people there who are there for the right reasons and want to show solidarity and want to learn how to be allies,” Cunningham said.
“Ideally, we would get Morrow County to reconsider their contract with ICE, but that’s kind of a big goal and would require sustained action beyond this protest,” Ball added.
Over 45 people have already signed up to attend the protest, and more may show up on the day of the event. “I think the biggest thing we want to do is give Kenyon students an opportunity to get off the Hill and show solidarity with people that, at the moment, can’t speak for themselves,” Cunningham said.
In the future, ASHES hopes to collaborate with other immigrants’ rights groups on campus like Sin Fronteras and Adelante, who are involved in the same type of activism that they hope to support.
Those interested in attending the protest at the Morrow County Jail on Saturday should attend a mandatory meeting at 10:15 p.m. tonight in Peirce Lounge.