Local advocates, activists, and impacted individuals spoke out in public on the issue of human detention camps in the United States on July 12 outside Milwaukee City Hall.

Organized as an awareness vigil to end human detention camps, hundreds of concerned residents of Milwaukee attended the Lights for Liberty event. They joined with thousands around the world in a protest of the inhumane conditions faced by refugees.

“What the United States is doing at our southern border in these detention camps is an abomination and needs to end now,” said Lisa Lucas, a co-organizer of Lights for Liberty in a statement. “In the aftermath of World War II, ‘never again’ was supposed to mean never again, but these abuses are being perpetrated on our own border at this moment. Silence is not an option when our government is traumatizing and abusing children and families.”

Participants lit candles in a silent vigil for all the parents and children held in American detention camps and denied civil rights under the U.S. Constitution. Speakers included Patricio Provitina, LULAC DC State Director; Primitivo Torres, former caseworker for asylum-seeking families in southern detention centers; Fernanda Jimenez, an impacted student; Rev. Michelle Townsend de Lopez, Pastor of Cross Lutheran Church; and Rev. Walter Lanier, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church.

“I’m actually a new mother. When I first heard that children were taking care of small infants, I was shocked,” said Paula Phillips, a co-organizer of the Milwaukee event. “People were only intended to stay in these centers for a few hours, but instead they remained in those conditions for weeks. I couldn’t believe something like that would happen in America.”

Local sponsors included MICAH, Voces de la Frontera, Progressive Moms of Wisconsin, Women’s March of WI, Indivisible MKE, WISDOM, AFT Local 212, ACLU of Wisconsin, Showing Up for Racial Justice MKE, and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The vigil took place hours after President Donald Trump attended a fundraiser in Milwaukee, just a day following a public Town Hall where five Democratic presidential candidates spoke during the 90th National Convention of LULAC on July 11.

These images captured moments from the solemn event that attempted to shine a light into the darkness of the Trump administration’s horrific humanitarian policies.

© Photo

Lee Matz and Claudio Martinez