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Rotary Echo: A Call for Justice

The phone - a call to Justice surrounding the Otay Mesa Detention Center.



As migration has become intertwined with crimincality, the United States has constructed a culture of incarceration grounded in apprehending individuals under the ideal of ensuring a “safe state.” Through creating a hegmonic system of domination, the Department of Homeland Security has infringed upon the lives of hundreds and thousands of immigrants. This violation is evident through the inadequate supply of essential hygiene items, sparse medical care - particularly highlighted through the rise of COVID-19 - and attempts to restrict detainess from accessing external resources. With this in mind, I wanted to create an art piece that calls attention to the injustices of those impacted by the abuse manifesting inside of the San Diego Otay Mesa Detention center (OMDC). As highlighted in the presentation by guest lecturers Alexis and Ruth from the local San Diego organization Detention Resistance, residents of the Otay Mesa Detention Center are consistently positioned under dehumanizing conditions where they are subjected to abuse by detention center officers, a high risk of COVID-19 infection, and extracted the right to communicate with lawyers, family, and the Detention Resistance hotline. Yet, what resonated with me the most was the realization that the Otay Mesa Detention Center was the place where Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia passed away. Carlos was the first person in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody to lose his life to COVID-19, and unfortunately was not the last. In combining Carlos’s passing, the unfair treatment of detainess within the OMDC, and the significance of phone calls as their sole means to communicate the realities inside the center, I developed a Rotary Dial phone for this project. While the physical phone is constructed from cardboard and glue, for the outside design of the phone I chose to illustrate the challenging conditions detainees face by creating a collage using photos from inside the OMDC, which I accessed through the internet. Overlaying the collage, I incorporated the phrase ‘NOT ONE MORE DEATH’ to communicate to audiences how Institutions like OMDC need to be abolished. To achieve this, society must shift away from allowing systems to profit from the loss of lives because there should not be another death within the confines of the OMDC or any other detention center.

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