Sean Thom joins us in the NJRR South studio to talk about a contract he discovered between the City of Vineland and ICE. ICE is paying Vineland 8,000 dollars a year to use their shooting range facilities for training exercises. Sean is asking the community to join him in standing against ICE to protect the community for those who might seek to do them harm.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. Hi and welcome to Wine Women and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online atwww.njrevolutionradio. com. Get us wherever you get podcasts from and follow us on all the social medias. Today we kind of have a quick breaking news story. It’s an extra special Wine Women and Revolution because it’s not going to come out on my main Monday release date. But sometimes there’s just stuff going on in the local community that we need to get a quick update out for and there’s a lot going on in South Jersey right now. I think we’re covering like maybe four stories that are all going on in the South Jersey area. And this is another one, you know, we just have a last battle, maybe not even a month ago, where the Atlantic county Freeholder board was trying to pass some sort of ICE cooperation legislation. And now there’s another community in South Jersey, Vineland, that’s actually has a contract with ICE to allow them to use their shooting range. So Today my guest is Mr. Sean Thom he ran against Van Drew I think it was last year was
Sean Thom 1:18
It was 2018
Heather Warburton 1:22
In the primary and unfortunately the Van Drew did end up becoming the nominee. Ahh, but, you know, it’s great to see that you’re still very involved in the community. So welcome to the show, Sean.
Sean Thom 1:32
Thanks for having me. Heather, appreciate the opportunity to kind of talk a little bit on this thing.
Heather Warburton 1:37
So what’s going on in Vineland. You’re from Vineland right?
Sean Thom 1:40
I spent a lot of time growing up in Vineland as a kid but I’m actually born and raised in the Milville area so I did live in Vineland have a lot of friends but I you know Vineland is right next door so definitely very close to home.
Heather Warburton 1:52
And so what’s going on with ICE and Vineland now.
Sean Thom 1:56
So I had a friend of mine reach out to me and share an article on from truthout.org. And on the article it lists an interactive map, where with every company where they’re located with who has contracts with ICE. So looking and zooming in on that map, you can see that the city of Vineland is listed as a vendor for an $8,000 contract. Now, after seeing that, and sharing it with a couple of people, we decided that we were going to put in an OPRA request for the documents regarding that contract. And when we did, we found out that a resolution was passed in March of 2017, was resolution 2017-167 that allows and created this agreement between ICE and the city of Vineland where ICE would be able to use their Vineland’s police departments firearms training facility, at the tune of $8,000 a year. We did some more research and found that that was passed unanimously through the Vineland city council with no discussion. And you know, the interesting part about that is that when you look at the meeting minutes as well as the agenda, the only thing that’s mentioned in either is it’s a memorandum of agreement for usage of the VIneland training facilities. There’s no mention either in the agenda or the meeting, the minutes of the meeting, at their contract is with ICE.
Heather Warburton 3:17
Oh, wow. So this seems very they were trying to push this through without much public discussion about it, and not trigger any alarms with people that oppose.
Sean Thom 3:27
Yes, it was pushed through. I mean, and you know, it was it was unanimous vote in the city council. It actually didn’t go into effect until the end of March in 2018. I there was a one year contract for I believe was March 27 2018 to March 26 2019. With an option to extend that to 2019 2020. I have confirmed with a captain of the Vineland police department who is in charge of monitoring that agreement that it has continued. And it is continuing with no plans in sight of terminating that contract, on the side of the Vineland city and Vineland police department.
Heather Warburton 4:04
Can you talk a little bit about the demographics of Vineland? For people who are not familiar with the area? You know, we have listeners throughout the country and in North Jersey, this is a fairly diverse community that is made up of immigrants, right?
Sean Thom 4:17
Absolutely, there is a there is a large number of Latino people who live in Vineland and as well as a large population of undocumented immigrants. And you know, this, this is an issue for a lot of us and it hits home. Because, you know, it starts here,ICE is driving from the Philadelphia Office, which is one of the most aggressive offices in the nation. 50 minutes from Philly down to VIneland, and to do this training now, who knows what they’re looking at what they’re seeing what they’re scoping out along the way, you know, these contracts are typically the beginning point for ICE operating in these areas, it gets them a foothold, and allows them to start building relationships with local police departments. And that typically turns into more when they start doing the raids. And then this you can turn around and say, Well, our hands are tied because ICE has jurisdiction because they’re a federal entity.
Heather Warburton 5:05
Right. So this actually could be putting community members in danger if they are immigrants, you know, we’re seeing ICE is getting more and more and more aggressive throughout the country, that they’re even coming after American citizens people, you know, holding them in detention facilities, I can’t remember the name of the man he was American citizen that was held in a detention center for a month, lost 25 pounds while he was held in that facility
Sean Thom 5:30
And didn’t shower.
Heather Warburton 5:31
Yeah, and we see on the border that ICE is his holding children without toothbrushes or, and they’re sleeping on mylar blankets, this is a really aggressive organization under the current regime that we have. So this really it could be putting community members in danger.
Sean Thom 5:47
I mean, we think that it is. While there has been no documentation of any sort of, you know, ICE raids in VIneland that we’ve been able to see or to kind of, you know, identify, I think whenever you have an organization like that, that is proven time and time again, they cannot be trusted with showing their true colors, that we have to stand up and say that you can’t be here. You can’t, you can’t operate here, because it’s only a matter of time before it does get to that point.
Heather Warburton 6:14
Right. So what’s the community? What do you asking the community to do just come to a meeting that’s going to be held in the near future?
Sean Thom 6:20
Yeah, so there is a Vineland city council meeting on Tuesday, August 27, it starts at 630, we are asking as many people to come out and to pack the city council room as possible, to come out and to share stories to share why they are against this contract, to ask the city council to terminate that, you know, it’s important for us to notice that to note that right now, we’re not looking at any sort of direct action, until we have our conversation with the City Council to see whether or not they are going to be agreeable to possibly terminate this contract. And we do want to work and, and build these relationships, because we have to make sure that this even if this contract is terminated that things like this aren’t happening again. So we want to give the city council a chance to answer our questions and to hear us out as a community and see really where that goes from there. So that’s what we’re asking everybody to come out to the meeting. It starts at 630 on August 27, and Vineland City Hall. And I can I can pull up the exact address right now. But you know, I think it’s important for us to show up and to show up with numbers, so that we can show them that we’re not going to stand for this.
Heather Warburton 7:29
Yeah. And that does prove to be effective that the earlier resolution I was talking about in Atlantic county with the freeholders, the community showed up. And that resolution was pulled, and ended up being a fairly agreeable, like they agreed to, like have conversations with the immigrant community about what does something that protect the immigrant community really look like? So you know, you’re giving them the chance for the Vineland council to do the right thing? And sometimes that does help and if not, I’m assuming, then is when direct actions might start happening, right?
Sean Thom 8:01
Yes. And we we’ve already had conversations with with different people in different organizations, and you know, from what we will potentially work on next because as somebody who is doing work in a community and a former political candidate, you know, I have no intentions of running for political office again, anytime in the future. But this isn’t, this is a non negotiable for me when it when it comes down, when it comes to jeopardizing families and people who are living and contributing to our society. In our communities. This is a non negotiable, these fear tactics, these operations, they cannot exist in our communities. And it’s up to us as community members to use our privilege to stand up and say, Hey, this is not happening. No matter how uncomfortable may make people to be able to say, Listen, this is our home, and we’re not standing for it. So I do have the address, by the way, the address, VIneland City Hall for all your listeners, if you want to come out and me I know. Some of you may be driving a distance, but it’s 640, East woods, Street, Vineland, New Jersey.
Heather Warburton 9:02
All right, and is there a coalition built are there like other various organizations that are involved in opposing this?
Sean Thom 9:09
I don’t, not at a point right now where I want to be naming specific organizations. But there are going I had been told and had some conversations there are going to be people who are coming out, especially some of the people who were very vocal for the resolution that was going on in Atlantic County. So you know, I think it’s awesome that we’re going to see this solidarity, and that this camaraderie to come together and to build and to say, Enough is enough, because this, like I said, this has been a nobody even knew what’s happening. If truthout.org doesn’t put in a request for information from ICE, we may never even known this contract was happening in existence. And it is, and is in direct violation of the Attorney General New Jersey’s order to not cooperate with ICE , as they are allowing it to use their private facilities.
Heather Warburton 9:53
Yeah. So it’s great that we’re getting this knowledge out to people so that the community has a chance to stand up and say, we don’t want this in our community. This is not helpful for us. This is not something we want to se. And community. This is how communities build real power. So it’s great to see this, this work is being done. Thank you.
Sean Thom 10:12
All the power to the people. Thank you for having me on set to share. You know, please feel free to my contact information in your show notes, in case anybody wants to meet to reach out and to be a part of this or has any questions or anything along those lines.
Heather Warburton 10:27
Alright, thanks for being here today. It was great talking to you.
Sean Thom 10:30
Likewise, Heather, thank you appreciate the work you’re doing
Heather Warburton 10:33
To my listeners. Thanks for joining us for this little quickie episode here. Hopefully we can get out and show some support here to the Vineland community and you know, it’s all about community here on New Jersey Revolution Radio, we are part of a community we are not some corporate entity that’s trying to shape and manipulate a story. We are trying to stand for the activist community. So that’s why we always have to ask you guys for help. If it’s all possible, we only take donations from you guys. So if you can go on to our website, www.njrevolutionradio, com, click on that Donate button, you can support us on Patreon or PayPal. Even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month. It really does help us go a long way and get out to more events. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it