Activists plan to stage a giant ninja-style protest Saturday outside the Philadelphia field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where they’ll call for the abolition of an agency they say has unconstitutionally detained and deported migrants.
The “Naruto Run to shut down DHS ICE Philadelphia” — named for the unusual running style of a popular Japanese anime character — is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. On Facebook, 1,000 people have said they’ll attend and 5,300 expressed interest in going.
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They plan to sprint, with arms splayed behind them, around and in front of the building at Eighth and Cherry Streets, home to one of the nation’s most aggressive ICE offices.
Organizers say they will demand an end to ICE, an enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and call on the Kenney administration to strengthen Philadelphia’s stance as a “sanctuary city.”
Agency spokesperson Khaalid Walls said ICE “fully respects the constitutional rights of all people to peacefully and lawfully express their opinions. However, the agency will continue to perform its immigration-enforcement mission consistent with federal law and agency policy.”
The Philadelphia ICE office has been a regular target of protests and prayer vigils since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
While those demonstrations seem to have little impact on policy, immigration activists say they’re a key part of a larger strategy: generating publicity and awareness, and creating a sense of purpose among those who share the same social justice aims.
The Naruto Run is organized by 30-year-old Jeremy Sims of South Philadelphia, who earlier told The Inquirer he was moved to act after reading a column that recounted a woman’s efforts to locate friends in ICE custody.
“Our ninja sprints have the power to demonstrate our unrest, and our power levels are unmatched,” declares the event’s Facebook page.
The protest is co-hosted by the Shut Down Berks Coalition, a veteran activist group whose mission is to close the 96-bed migrant family detention center in Leesport, Pa.
The Naruto run was introduced by the character Naruto Uzumaki, a blond ninja in the TV series of the same name. He runs bent forward, chest out, with arms flung back, as if to minimize wind resistance.