Aug 8, 2017: Fourth Hunger Strike Starts in Northwest Detention Center
Facility in “Modified Lock Down” Since August 5th
Tacoma – On August 8th, 20 people inside the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) started another hunger strike, the fourth this year alone, demanding to be released from segregation and for all people detained be released to their families and communities– starting with people that are not deportable, those that should be covered under the Convention Against Torture, and those that have waiting for a response on their case for more than 1 year.
This most recent hunger strike is in response to the increasingly appalling actions of the GEO Group, the private prison contractor who runs the NWDC facility. People in one unit were retaliated against for protecting each other from GEO guard’s assaults, threats and intimidation. On Aug. 8th, at 11am, the whole unit was dismantled, 20 of those were sent to solitary confinement, accused of “starting a riot.” The rest were sent to a different unit. The hunger strike began at 11am, and will not end until the 20 in solitary confinement are sent back to general population.
On Friday, August 4th, a GEO guard assaulted a youth, who came to the country as an unaccompanied minor, and was transferred to the facility once he turned 18. When people vocally protested the assault, GEO locked down a part of the facility, disallowing people to use the phones, lawyers were not allow to visit, and the lights where turned off.
Since Saturday August 5th, the whole facility has been in “modified lockdown,” people inside have reportedly been restricted from talking to each other, have limited access to phones, and are taken one at the time to receive medications among other restrictions.
One hunger strike organizer recently was threatened recently by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) with indefinite detention if he did not stop organizing. ICE and his parole officer made it clear if he did not stop organizing hunger strikes, they would transfer his back and forth between facilities, “Why threaten me this way when ICE and GEO both claim we are detainees, not prisoners?” said the person threatened by authorities.
In a recent tour of the NWDC facility for legal groups, ICE admitted to transferring people from one facility to another as retaliation for organizing.
Aug 10, 2017: Hunger Strikers Demand Release from Solitary Confinement in Tacoma’s Immigration Prison
NWDC continues on “modified lockdown” indefinitely
Over 15 immigrants held in solitary confinement continue on hunger strike. The hunger strike began Aug 8th at 11am when 20 immigrants were taken to solitary in retaliation, highlighting poor detention conditions and a violent and hostile environment for up to 1,575 people held by the GEO Group for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The hunger strikers have issued demands to GEO Group and ICE, calling for them to respect the humanity of detainees. The hunger strike will end once all 20 people are returned to general population.
Hunger strikers demand that the 20 people who were placed in solitary confinement for “planning a riot” after the event that happened on August 4th because they yelled at a GEO guard who was assaulting a youth be released back into the general population. The boy had recently been transferred to the NWDC after turning 18, after arriving as an unaccompanied youth and held by child services until he was eligible for detention and deportation. After his assault, GEO guards placed the facility on lockdown — no phones, no lawyer visits, not even lights. Since then, the facility is on “modified lockdown” and even those not held in solitary confinement have reportedly been told that they cannot talk to each other.
HUNGER STRIKERS’ DEMANDS
The hunger strikers have issued a complete list of demands targeted to responsible agencies:
Hunger strikers demand that ICE:
- Release the 20 people held in solitary confinement back into the general population.
- Release everyone who has been in detention for four years or more.
- Release people who have completed their court cases and are waiting for visas. (People sometimes wait for weeks for release, even after agreeing to repatriation.)
- Release people from detention if their countries of origin will not accept them (instead of detaining them indefinitely).
- Prioritize reviews of people from regions suffering violence, such as the Middle East, Africa and Central America.
- Let people have contact visits with their family at least once every 90 days.
- Hold GEO responsible for detention conditions because “GEO is NOT CAPABLE.”
Hunger Strikers demand that GEO Group:
- Release hunger strikers from segregation into the general population.
- Arrange contact visits with families.
- Stop segregating people into “levels” of security, and stop moving people on that basis. People currently registered as Level 3 should get at least 2 hours a day for recreation, as other levels currently do.
- Negotiate commissary store prices down. Our families already pay taxes outside and then have to pay money for our commissary, they have to pay a fee and then we have to pay triple.
- Provide nutritious food: We want better, healthy food. We want fruit again, not just on weekends and more protein.
Activists are currently outside the Northwest Detention Center in solidarity with the hunger strikers and will have a daily presence until the strikers end their protest. We call on the Northwest Detention Center to release them from solitary confinement, and on GEO and ICE to take responsibility for inhumane living conditions.
For live updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/
NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA as part of the #Not1more campaign, and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.