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Skywriting project targets SoCal immigration detention centers and courts

Producers of the event said the goal of the skywriting performance is "to make visible what is too often unseen and unspoken -- the imprisonment of immigrants."

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Fleets of skywriting planes left artist- created messages in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County skies on Friday above immigration detention centers, courts and historically significant landmarks in an effort to call attention to the detention of immigrants.

The messages began 9:30 a.m. above the Adelanto Detention Center, then the fleet traveled to downtown Los Angeles skies, where 15-character messages were left in the late morning airspace above immigration facilities, county and federal lockups and courthouses, followed by the Arcadia and Pomona locations of internment camps where Japanese Americans where held during World War II.

In the afternoon, the planes went to Terminal Island and then traveled to Orange County and San Diego, where messages were left above courts and immigration offices, with a 3 p.m. finish in the skyways above the Otay Mesa Immigration Court.

Producers of the event said the goal of the skywriting performance, in which 80 artists have contributed across the country over the Independence Day weekend, is "to make visible what is too often unseen and unspoken -- the imprisonment of immigrants."

Written with water vapor, the messages are designed to be seen and read for miles.

"We wanted to devise the sort of display that would make visible the problem of immigrant detention," said Los Angeles-based performance artist Cassils, co-founder of the nationwide project. "By going over the internment camps, we want to make clear that the problem is nothing new."

Each artist's message will end in #XMAP, a hashtag devised to lead viewers to In Plain Sight, a website and interactive map which locates the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities within the viewer's immediate vicinity.

Los Angeles artist contributors include Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, whose words, "CARE NOT CAGES," will be written in the clouds above LA County Jail, the largest such facility in the country.

Latina transgender organizer and advocate Bamby Salcedo's message, "STOP CRIMIGRATION NOW," will be projected above U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' downtown field office.

Cassils' phrase, "SHAME #DEFUNDHATE," will be affixed over the Los Angeles-area headquarters of the Geo Group, operators of for-profit prisons.

Until prisons and detention facilities are abolished, "we will fight to end the symptoms of racist law enforcement and brutality," said Tania Bernal of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, adding that she hopes to show that "even those most deemed disposable by the state are worthy of their humanity, of compassion, and of transformational growth."

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