Michigan activists say ‘white privilege’ makes DACA protest less risky for them

Eight protesters arrested this week for shutting down traffic in Kalamazoo, Mich., in protest against the Trump administration’s DACA announcement, said their “white privilege” allowed them to risk legal consequences and oppose the government.

Hundreds of protesters swarmed into the streets in opposition to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind protections for people brought into the U.S. illegally as children and giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution to the issue.

The demonstrators blocked one of Kalamazoo’s busiest intersections, Mlive.com reported, but only eight white activists dared to continue blocking the intersection after police threatened to arrest anyone still participating.

Among the arrested were Andy Argo, Jimmy Brewster, Paul Haag, the Rev. Sarah Schmidt-Lee, Christine Lewis, Jessica Martin, Larry Provancher and Cary Betz Williams.

The group was released the same day, with a court date in September to decide their charges — potentially a misdemeanor for violating city laws, Mlive.com reported.

Haag said he became more political following Trump’s election. He explained that he used his “white privilege” to stand up to minorities by blocking the intersection.

“In my experience I see good, hardworking folks trying to strive toward the American dream,” he told Mlive.com. “Depending on their immigration status, they have a restricted voice and liberties in terms of standing up for themselves without putting themselves at great risk. I want to take advantage of my white privilege to do the right thing.”

Lewis, a co-director of the left-wing Michigan United advocacy group, seconded Haag, claiming she had to take responsibility as a white person to stand up against white supremacy as undocumented immigrants cannot do it in the same way as they could get deported.

“For us as citizens who are white, we want to take up our responsibility to fight white supremacy; and that means taking risks,” she said. “The point of the arrests was to show fellow white folks what it means to take action and invite people in.”

An online crowdfunding campaign has been created by 6th Congressional District candidate Eponine Garrod following the arrest of the eight white activists. It seeks to raise $4,000 to cover any court fees. So far, it has attracted almost $1,100 in donations.

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