Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen decided to wind down from a long few days of lying her ass off about the Trump administration’s family separation policy by dining at a fancy Mexican restaurant in D.C. So, activists at the Metro D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America decided to pay her a visit.
Metro D.C. DSA member Margaret McLaughlin said that the DSA got a tip that Nielsen was at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, which is situated just a short walk from the White House. On about 30 minutes notice, around 15 DSA members showed up and filed into the restaurant, and yelled “Abolish ICE,” “Shame,” and “End Texas concentration camps!” at the DHS secretary while she tried to enjoy her dinner.
Just in case you start to feel a little bit bad for her, this happened precisely one day after Nielsen defended the “high standards” at detention centers for children by saying: “We give them meals, we give them education, we give them medical care. There is videos, there is TVs, I visited the detention centers myself.” How kind of them.
McLaughlin said the protest ended peacefully, and Slate staff writer Osita Nwanevu took video outside of the restaurant as Nielsen got in her car and left.
Afterwards, however, the group was confronted by the cops, who “hassled” them, according to McLaughlin.
“The Secret Service is here, so are the police, they’re claiming that we have assaulted people when we didn’t touch a single person,” Metro DC DSA member Allison Hrabar says in the video. “The only people that touched anybody were the Secret Service who touched me and a couple of other of our comrades.” In the video, the activists repeatedly ask why they aren’t being allowed to leave, but by the end of the video, the cops tell them that they’re free to go.
“We will not stand by and let Secretary Nielsen dine in peace, while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border,” McLaughlin, a member of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee, said in a statement. “Secretary Nielsen and everyone else who has carried out these brutal and cold-blooded orders to rip apart families should never be allowed to eat and drink in public again. These barbarous acts must end and those at the helm must be held accountable. While Secretary Nielsen’s dinner may have been ruined, it is nothing compared to the horrors she has inflicted on innocent families.”
DHS Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement: “While having a work dinner tonight, the Secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protestors who share her concern with our current immigration laws that have created a crisis on our southern border.” This is a lie, of course—the crisis began when the zero-tolerance policy was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in May; since that point, the AP reports, over 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the border.
The DSA also did not show up to protest “immigration laws.” They showed up to protest Nielsen and the administration’s family separation policy, as evidenced by the fact that they chanted “Abolish ICE!” Unless the “immigration law” that Houlton refers to is the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which established ICE, it didn’t seem like the DSA was concerned very much with immigration law on Tuesday night.
“The Secretary encourages all—including this group—who want to see an immigration system that works, that contributes to our economy, that protects our security, and that reflects our values to reach out to Members of Congress and seek their support to close the terrible immigration loopholes that have made our system a mess,” Houlton said. “The Secretary has been working with Members of Congress for months in search of a solution and she will continue to do so this week.”
A representative of the Metro DC police said that it “does not appear” that MPD responded to the call from the second video, and directed requests for comment to the Secret Service. We’ve reached out to the Secret Service for comment, and will update with any response we receive.
Update, 10:52 PM: This story has been updated with a statement from the Nielsen’s office as well as the Metro D.C. chapter of the DSA.