Jewish Groups Protest at Pelosi’s Office, Demand Closure of Border Migrant Facilities

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Protesters held up traffic as they marched along Market Street in San Francisco. (Chloe Veltman/KQED)

Bay Area progressive Jewish groups protested outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office Friday to demand the closure of border migrant facilities, echoing similar recent demonstrations on the East Coast.

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More than 400 people from across the Bay Area marched to Pelosi’s office in the San Francisco Federal Building, waving banners with slogans like “Abolish ICE,” and singing and chanting in English, Hebrew and Spanish.

"We cannot be silent in the face of these atrocities," said 16-year-old Kai Levenson-Cupp, from Jewish Youth for Community Action. "So how Jews end up spending our Shabbat is praying with our feet and marching."

Kai Levenson-Cupp, 16, of Jewish Youth for Community Action, makes a speech at a July 5 protest outside the San Francisco Federal Building demanding the closure of migrant detention centers. (Chloe Veltman/KQED)

Protesters linked arms outside the Federal Building, at 7th and Mission streets, where there were a variety of speakers from the Jewish community. They were joined by members of the Latino community and others opposing  the Trump administration’s controversial handling of migrants at the border.

Protesters link arms outside the San Francisco Federal Building. (Chloe Veltman/KQED)

"It is a moment in which the inhumanity has been brought to light in such a dramatic way that folks cannot turn away," said Oakland resident Jill Marcellus.

Jews — with their history of being shut out —have been fighting broadly for immigrant rights for years. But the latest wave of protests marks new energy in the movement, Marcellus said.

Phyllis Bennis, an expert on the Middle East with the Institute for Policy Studies,  agreed.

"These protests are only one aspect of the increasing progressive activism, that is saying that to be Jewish has to mean taking up progressive causes," Bennis said.

Jewish activism has been on the rise in recent years, particularly as more young Jews speak out on a variety of issues, including Palestinian rights and environmental justice, she added.

More than 400 protesters from progressive Jewish groups marched in San Francisco to demand an end to migrant detention centers. (Chloe Veltman/KQED)

The march stopped traffic as it traveled along Market Street and people chanted “Never Again Is Now!” The police presence grew over the course of two hours, but no arrests were made.

Pelosi did not make an appearance during the demonstration.

Organizers in San Francisco said they are planning more protests against the Trump zdministration’s anti-immigration policies in the weeks and months ahead.