February 12, 2016

Anti-Gitmo North Coalition holds protest, press conference

Tim Barnum
Protesters line up at the intersection of US-23 and M-61 on Friday.

STANDISH — Expectations for a 500 to 1,000-person protest at the corner of US-23 and M-61 were well off, but people against the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Standish still stood out in the rain Friday to voice their opposition.

Afterwards, protesters, as well as other community members, gathered at the Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church for a press conference held by the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North.

Debra Burlingame, Founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, was one speaker at the press conference. She said Standish would be in danger if the detainees were transferred to the empty prison.

“This will be the new ground zero. Make no mistake,” she said. “If you’re not afraid, then there’s something wrong with you.”

She also said the detainees would be accompanied by their attorneys and human rights groups that would fight for the detainees.

“They (attorneys, human rights organizations) would unleash hell in your community,” Burlingame said.

Dave Munson, a local member of the coalition opposed to the transfer, encouraged the approximately 75 people at the pres conference to keep fighting to be heard.

“We have to keep protesting,” he said. “The only choice we’ve got is to stand up and say no.”

Lincoln Township’s Supervisor, Dave Hertzberg, said that if a larger perimeter was put up around the prison, it would hurt residents of the township, which is where the prison is physically located.

“I have 26 homes in this block,” he said. “Do they have to sell? We have no idea. … It would take our SEV (State Equalized Value) down quite a bit in the township.”

Federal officials toured the Standish Maximum Correctional Facility on Aug. 13 to observe its viability as a federal prison or detention center.

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