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West Region News for August 2021

Highlights of work from around the region

Leticia Sierra describes Otay Mesa Detention Center
On an AFSC webinar, Leticia Sierra describes her experience at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego. Photo: / AFSC

(Click to view this newsletter as a PDF.)

US-Mexico Border Program, San Diego
Working to end immigrant detention
“I was so scared for my life, I thought I was going to die in there,” says Leticia Sierra about the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego. During AFSC’s recent webinar Breaking Open Cages from the Ground Up: Spotlighting Local Campaigns to End Immigrant Detention, Leticia describes the woefully inadequate medical care for people at the start of the pandemic and immigrants’ efforts to enlist the help of outside organizations such as AFSC for help. “I hope that this message goes to everyone, to let them know how important it is to free our people from these places,” she adds. “They don’t deserve this.”


Pan Valley Institute (PVI), Fresno
Addressing the lack of Queer safe spaces in the Central Valley
From Central Valley Scholars: Created in partnership with PVI’s ArteVism fellowship and led by Michael Piña, this Learning Group aims to address the lack of Queer safe spaces and community centers in the Central Valley. The group will consist of five BIPOC who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community. Participants will meet via Zoom bi-weekly through January 2022 and collectively develop an art project sponsored by PVI.


East 27th Street between Stanford Avenue and San Pedro Street remains closed to cars and has a police presence after homes and property were damaged by the LAPD’s fireworks detonation shortly before the Fourth of July. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Roots for Peace (R4P) Program, Los Angeles
Support for families impacted by police explosion
On July 30, the Los Angeles Police Department detonated fireworks in a densely populated neighborhood in South Los Angeles causing a large explosion which severely impacted an entire city block. Several families affected are members of AFSC’s Roots for Peace program. Staff organized to provide direct resources to the families displaced by the explosion and joined community members in calling for transparency, police accountability, and reparations for losses incurred. Roots for Peace continues to support families to navigate recovery from the explosion. Read this update, and check out this page for ways you can help, too.


Farmer Marcia Fernandez speaks at an AFSC event. (Photo: AFSC NM)

People of the Land Program, Albuquerque
Water is not for selling. Water is for defending.
AFSC New Mexico co-directors Sayrah Namaste and Patrick Jaramillo describe AFSC’s efforts in coalition to stop Santolina, a huge development planned for south of Albuquerque that would be the second largest community in the state. “It is estimated that Santolina would demand over 14 million gallons of water per day,” they write. “This is water that is not available, and water that could only come from the traditional communities. If Santolina is built, it would mean the death of those communities.”


67 Sueños, Oakland
New mural focuses on healing
From Instagram: On July 31, youth participants with 67 Sueños unveiled their new mural, Heal Your People Heal Yourself. Shoutout to our families, friends, femtors & mentors for supporting our work & vision. None of this would have been possible without y’all’s love & guidance. Hella love to the powerful youth for sharing their stories, their poetry, and art….



Immigrant Rights Program, Denver
Pushing for Citizenship for All and an end to immigrant detention
AFSC’s member groups, Not1More Deportation Table and Coloradoans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR), are deeply engaging in Citizenship for All efforts during the first half of the August Congressional recess, pushing members of Congress hard to reduce ICE and Border Patrol budgets, especially for detention. An August 30 vigil at the GEO Detention Center in Aurora will include reports back on this work and some exciting visuals on #DefundHate and how we would reinvest the millions GEO receives.



Healing Justice Program, Oakland
Confronting policing and white supremacy
“I’ve suffered police abuse and intimidation,” says Nathaniel Philipps, AFSC Ristad Fellow who facilitated a recent AFSC Community Safety Beyond Policing (CSBP) webinar on Policing and White Supremacy. “I’m of the belief that when the police target poor, racialized, queer and disabled individuals, which are all identities that I carry, then the system is working exactly as intended.” Check out AFSC’s CSBP page for more about past and upcoming webinars.


Project Voice Immigrant Rights Program, Oregon-Washington
Popular education materials available
Pedro Sosa of AFSC is pleased to share these Popular Education Liberates materials for people’s use, including information in Spanish about the COVID-19 vaccine. This bio of Pedro describes his work with AFSC to strengthen leadership and voices of immigrant communities and build a strong national immigrant and refugee rights agenda. He is also active in advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples at the UN.


Economic Activism Program, Oakland
Pillsbury should follow Ben and Jerry’s lead
After years of grassroots campaigning, Ben and Jerry’s announced it would stop selling its ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. General Mills should follow suit and stop manufacturing Pillsbury products on stolen land. Join AFSC’s campaign to boycott Pillsbury. Check out AFSC’s Investigate website for more information on General Mills, Pillsbury’s parent company.


Arizona Program, Tucson
Pushing for real community safety and an end to private prisons
With Arizona’s prison population at its lowest since 2006, having dropped by 5000 people in 2020 alone, AFSC Arizona asks: Why are we paying private companies for more prison beds? AFSC is encouraging people to contact Gov. Doug Ducey and Director Andy Tobin and tell them to invest in real community safety instead. AFSC and partners have also organized a Free Imam Jamil Press Conference and Protest on August 15 to demand justice and his freedom.

Short takes
Read AFSC’s statement on the recent Israeli raid on our partner Defense for Children International-Palestine…. Check out the summer issue of AFSC’s engaging alumni newsletter….Read more about accelerating racial justice work among Friends.… Congrats to Eisha Mason, a former AFSC West Region staffer, on receiving a New Thought Walden Award… Meet AFSC’s Gift Planning Team….Join AFSC’s August 18 webinar/phone zap on ending Selective Service….If you’re curious about AFSC’s work east of the Rockies, check out the latest Midwest Digest.

Your support matters
Your gifts of time and money make a real difference. Please be in touch with any West Region program by visiting, and support the AFSC West Region by donating today. Please share this subscription link for this newsletter with others. Thank you!