Former State Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Rhode Island) delivered the following speech outside the Wyatt Detention Facility shortly before being arrested as a part of a civil disobedience protest with 17 other people:
“My grandfather’s name is Ralph Price. He was born in Rosenberg, Germany in 1930. He was very lucky and survived the Holocaust. Most of his family did not. When I was younger I felt a lot of anger about what my grandpa experienced. Sometimes I was angry at Hitler, sometimes I was angry at faceless Nazi storm troopers, but more than anything else, what really made me sick to my stomach was thinking about the people in my grandpa’s town. My grandpa’s neighbors watched the dehumanization and escalating violence happening in their country, being done in their community, and went about their lives business as usual.”
“Friends, we cannot at this moment afford to go about our lives business as usual.
“Our government, elected in one way or another by us, is enacting daily and escalating violence against our neighbors. Our tax dollars are being used to separate parents from their children – from their babies. Concentration camps are being operated in our name, under our flag and a modern-day Gestapo called ICE is targeting families in our communities, ambushing mothers and fathers on the street and warehousing them in private prisons like this one, making profits for corporate shareholders
“So let’s be very, very clear: When we say, Never Again Is Now, we mean that this is our fight! This is our responsibility – our responsibility as Americans, and especially as Jews!
“There’s always going to be fascists. There’s always gonna be wannabe fascists. There’s always going to be Hitlers and Trumps. What makes the difference between Again and Never Again comes down to what we do.
“It comes down to whether we choose to go about our lives business as usual, or whether we choose to rise up and take that maxim Never Again and put it into practice. It comes down to whether we choose to resist the nomenclature used to describe the government’s horrifying atrocities, or whether we choose to resist the government for committing horrifying atrocities.
“And I want to get specific for a moment here:
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“To the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York: When you use your platforms to call out the use of the term concentration camp rather than the fact that we have concentration camps in this country, you are failing the Jewish community, you are failing our Jewish history, and more than anything you are failing the Jewish commitment to Never Again.
“Because here’s the thing: Never Again is not just about remembering how the Holocaust ended. It’s also about how the Holocaust began. It’s about the gradual legal exclusion and state-sponsored dehumanization that led, eventually, to the murder of my grandparent’s family and to the murder of so many millions of others.
“It’s about understanding that path, from beginning to end, and all of us throwing ourselves in the way of that path, into the gears of that mechanism and process, in any way we possibly can.
“It means that if we’re fighting for Never Again then we are fighting to shut down the camps!
“It means that if we’re fighting for Never Again then we are fighting to abolish ICE!
“It means that if we’re fighting for Never Again then we are fighting against white supremacy in all its forms.
“It means if we’re fighting for Never Again then we are fighting to shut down the Wyatt, and every other ICE detention facility and for-profit private prison in this country!
“There are a lot of differences between 1930s Germany and America in 2019, but the biggest difference, the most important difference, is that none of us were around in 1930s Germany. But we are here today, in America in 2019, let’s make that difference count!”