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These Immigrant Rights Activists Brought A Literal Melting 'ICE' Sculpture To A Protest

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On Thursday, a coalition of immigrant rights and faith-based groups went big with the metaphor and brought a literal melting "ICE" sculpture to a rally in downtown Los Angeles. The activists were protesting the L.A. Sheriff's Department's continued cooperation with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Sheriff Jim McDonnell's vocal opposition to SB 54, the so-called "Sanctuary State" bill.

Standing under the hot August sun with the large ice sculpture quietly dripping on a folding table, activists said that they intended for the sculpture to symbolize their demand to "melt the ICE collusion." Speakers referenced two recent prominent cases, telling the stories of Pastor Noe Carias and Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez—two Angelenos who have both been in the U.S. for more than 20 years and are currently being held in immigrant detention centers while they fight pending deportation cases.

Chants of "Sheriff McDonnell, we need more, support SB 54," and "Hey, ho, your ICE collusion has got to go," carried through the crowd. There was also a small but vocal group of counter protesters, several of whom were clad in Trump apparel, separated by a barricade. The counter protesters alternated between chants of "We need more ICE" and the slightly simpler "ICE, ICE, ICE."

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"Recent history has shown that President Trump's statement about detaining and deporting only 'violent felons,' has meant in practice the targeting and detention of people who have lived in this country for years or decades, have become central pillars of their communities, are supporting families, and whose only crime is having come to this country illegally... Yet you have remained adamant that you will allow ICE into the jails, honor detainer requests and fully cooperate with ICE—at the same time that these abuses of people and justice continue," protest organizers wrote in an open letter to Sheriff McDonnell. "We demand that, at the least, you stop lobbying against SB 54. We also urge you to stop the Sheriff's department's cooperation with ICE." The letter was signed by Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, LA Voice, the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, UFCW 770, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice L.A., among other groups.

The sculpture was provided by the Los Angeles chapter of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a national grassroots organization. Bend the Arc's Rabbi Aryeh Cohen told LAist that the idea for the melting letters had been suggested by a few people, and that it was surprisingly easy to obtain once they found "an ice guy."

"So much of the Jewish American story is about immigration and a clear path towards citizenship. We need to stand up for our neighbors and immigrant brothers and sisters now," Anjuli Kronheim Katz, Bend the Arc's Regional Organizer, told LAist. Bend the Arc was one of a number of Jewish groups involved with today's protest, others included IKAR, whose Rabbi Sharon Brous delivered the invocation at the inauguration ceremony for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's second term.

Counter protester Darrell Robinson, an Anaheim retiree holding an American flag and a "No to SB 54 sign," told LAist that he found it "shameful for the church to get into it." Robinson said that he had come to support Sheriff McDonnell "against sanctuary cities."

"We're trying to protest against them," he said, motioning to the dozens of people on the other side of the barricade. "They always get the big crowds and always want to make something illegal be legal."

The ice "ICE" sculpture was eventually crushed by protesters before the event came to a close.