People in NW Detention Center Solitary Confinement Are On Hunger Strike; Have Issued Demands to GEO Group and ICE

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

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Updates + Help the Riverside Hunger Strikers Win Humane Conditions

April 26, 2017: About 30 people inside of Robert Presley Detention Center and at least one in Southwest Detention Center in Riverside, CA have been on hunger strike since April 13, 2017. Jail administrators have yet to meet with the strikers to address their concerns. The Riverside County Jails’ conditions undermine the prisoners’/detainees’ rights and dignity.

Hunger Strike Announcement from prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center (Jail) Administrative Segregation (Solitary Confinement)
[includes demands] https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/hunger-strike-in-riverside-county-jails-begins-april-13-2017

WOMEN ON HUNGER STRIKE IN ROBERT PRESLEY DETENTION CENTER
Reports from April 26, 2017 are that some women prisoners in Robert Presley Detention Center have joined in the hunger strike. They too have stopped eating. We will share more information as we learn it, reaching out for family members of those women. We expect there may be additional issues for the women prisoners that they are striking about. We will find out.

14 DAYS WITHOUT EATING
Four people on hunger strike in Robert Presley Detention Center have passed out. Three of them have had trips to outside medical facilities. Riverside Sheriff’s Dept. runs the Robert Presley and has been retaliating, trying to intimidate the hunger strikers. For almost two weeks, they have not allowed family visits, and they limited phone access, cut off all commissary, and levied rules violations1 against the people on peaceful hunger strike. On April 26, Day 14 of the Hunger Strike, we learned that visits, telephone, and commissary have been restored and the rules violations withdrawn. Outside pressure stopped that retaliation! It is well past time for the Riverside Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. to meet with the strikers and address the reasons for the strike- inhumane and needlessly restrictive policies!

INTERVIEW WITH FAMILY MEMBERS ON SOJOURNER TRUTH RADIO
On the morning of April 26, 2017, Margaret Prescod of Sojourner Truth Radio on KPFK, spoke with two family members of a man who’s been awaiting trial for 3 years in solitary, and has been on hunger strike in Riverside County Jail since the first day, April 13. Sojourner Truth Radio: Detainees in Riverside County Jail Launch Hunger Strike https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojourner-truth-radio-detainees-in-riverside-county-jail-launch-hunger-strike

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT THE HUNGER STRIKE

⇒SHARE THIS UPDATE FAR AND WIDE. 

⇒SIGN (and share) THIS PETITION
“Support Riverside County Jail Hunger Strikers!” Petition by Riverside All Of Us Or None to the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Dept. https://www.change.org/p/riverside-county-board-of-supervisors-support-riverside-county-jail-hunger-strikers

⇒MAKE CALLS (or continue making calls); Sample Script HERE
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
Kevin Jeffries: (951) 955-1010
John Tavaglione: (951) 955-1020
Chuck Washington: (951) 955-1030
Marion Ashley: (951) 955-1050
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT:(951) 955-2400 Press Option 4
RIVERSIDE COUNTY ROBERT PRESLEY JAIL: (951) 955-4500 Press Option 1 then Option 8

⇒SEND A LETTER to the Riverside Board of Supervisors
• U.S. Mail address: 4080 Lemon Street, 5th Floor, Riverside, California 92501
• Email addresses: district1@rcbos.org, district2@rcbos.org, district3@rcbos.org, district5@rcbos.org
Sample letter: http://wp.me/a1BB1k-35h
Encourage and help your organizations, churches, etc. to write a letter, too.

⇒FILE A COMPLAINT WITH RIVERSIDE GRAND JURY
Please fill this out if you are a Riverside resident
http://countyofriverside.us/Portals/0/GrandJury/GrandJury2013-2014/grandjurycmpltform.pdf

⇒MAY DAY RALLY!
Join a Rally on Monday, May 1st in support of the Hunger Strikers on their 17th day. More details will be out soon.
Our Rally will be alongside the May Day Marches and Rallies honoring International Workers Day and Immigrant Rights Day.


1 In March 2015, a state appeals court says a California prisoner who took part in a mass hunger strike protesting long-term solitary confinement should not have been punished for disorderly behavior because he did not disrupt prison operations or endanger anyone. This should apply also to jail prisoners/detainees. https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/ca-state-court-prisoner-cant-be-punished-for-hunger-strike/

Northwest Detention Center Hunger Strike Ends after 56 Days – Collective of Detainees Releases Statement

AFTER 56 DAYS, NORTHWEST DETENTION CENTER HUNGER STRIKE CONCLUDES; NEWLY FORMED COLLECTIVE OF DETAINEES RELEASES STATEMENT

Tacoma, WA, May 5, 2014 – The wave of hunger strikes that first began on March 7th at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), a federal facility owned by the GEO Group and under the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has concluded. In a communication dated May 1st, the newly formed “Collective of NWDC-T Detainees,” informed their supporters that they have completed this stage of their struggle. Full text of statement, with Spanish-language original, is below; pdf of original available upon request. The letter, titled, “Assessment of one phase of struggle” documents the retaliation suffered by the peaceful whistle-blowing hunger strikers during the March 27th wave of the strike. Describing “rigged hearings under false accusations with no respect for due process” and “sentences of 2 to 30 days” of solitary confinement suffered by the hunger strikers, the Collective also affirms their commitment to their initial demands, including a call for an end to deportations and for bold action by President Obama.

The hunger strike, which at its height included 1200 detainees, garnered local, national, and international media attention, and exposed the deplorable conditions in the facility, one of the largest detention centers on the West Coast. A February 24th #Not1More action outside the gates of the NWDC, where protesters blocked deportation buses and vans, inspired those held inside to take action of their own in the form of the hunger strike. Jose Moreno, among those on the GEO Group-marked van protesters stopped on the 24th, helped organize the hunger strike before being released on bond. Since his release, he has continued to lead the support efforts for those still imprisoned. Hearing of the end of the strike, Mr. Moreno stated, “Abuses that have been happening for years have now come to light. We are still in the struggle, and although the strike has ended, this isn’t over.”

Among the strike’s most important victories was an end to the silence surrounding the conditions of detention and deportation in this corner of the country. Despite being located in a little-trafficked industrial zone, the strike drew hundreds of supporters to multiple rallies outside the prison and inspired a similar action in a GEO Group immigrant detention facility in Conroe, Texas. Ernestina Hernandez, the wife of one of the men deported from Conroe for engaging in the hunger strike, began a hunger strike of her own outside the gates of the White House, bringing the peaceful protest tactic to the President’s front door.

Throughout the strike, ICE and GEO Group abuses continued to come to light. Among these are serious workplace injuries suffered by detainees laboring for $1/day; possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars of unaccounted telephone funds held back by the facility upon detainees’ deportations; and the use of solitary confinement and prison transfers in response to detainees’ peaceful protest. Also spotlighted were organizations that profit from the detention center. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, headquartered in Seattle, has become a target of hunger-strike supporters and others, due to their investment in GEO Group, and pressure continues for them to divest their holdings in the private prison company.

While ICE remains unresponsive to many of the hunger strikers’ demands, others are taking action as a result of the strike. Following a visit to the facility, where he met privately with hunger strikers and listened to their stories and demands, U.S. Representative Adam Smith drafted legislation, set to be introduced this week, which aims to create statutory standards for the treatment of immigrant detainees.

In their statement, the strikers emphasized that the 56-day hunger strike was only the beginning, stating that, “The fortifications, the walls that attempted to contain our participation have cracked and with ever growing unity we will finish knocking them down; the voice that initially struggled to filter out is now heard with greater firmness and clarity.”

STATEMENT FROM HUNGER STRIKERS:
Assessment of one phase of struggle

Today, May 1st, a 30-day hunger strike came to a conclusion. It had a prelude of 72 hours of fasting begun on March 27th, occurring in a climate of persecution, harassment and application of disciplinary punishments, invented and prefabricated by personnel from GEO (the private company that runs the Northwest Detention Center – Tacoma “NWDC – T”), with the goal of stopping us from adding our voice to the voice of those on the outside clamoring for Not1More, stop deportations, end the destruction of families, deferred action for all, yes to immigration reform; despite suffering through rigged “hearings” under false accusations, with no respect for due process, taking out of context the actions of the “accused,” impeding free exercise of ideas and the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as the right to information. In an atmosphere of voluntary and strictly peaceful action, they unleashed a chain of “disciplinary sanctions,” applying isolation and segregation to the participants who were on rolling fasts and hunger strikes, from March 24 until April 2nd, with an eye towards the great action on April 5th. These resulted in sentences of 2 to 30 days of punishment, with which they attempted and are attempting to discourage our unity in becoming a single voice regardless of whether we are on the inside or on the outside. With certainty we affirm that they did not succeed in containing and silencing the voice of those on the inside, the voice of the detained. They did not succeed in hijacking our emotions or our disposition to struggle despite drastically limiting our rights and falsely accusing us of insurrection. The campaign to marginalize us carried out by a cruel and unscrupulous bureaucracy that represents immoral and indecent interests cannot contain a just struggle that uses peaceful methods to make itself heard.

The fortifications, the walls that attempted to contain our participation have cracked and with ever growing unity we will finish knocking them down; the voice that initially struggled to filter out is now heard with greater firmness and clarity. With dignity, with self-respect, we are honored to signal that we are also present and that we add ourselves to the work yet to come until we succeed in NOT ONE MORE person added to the deportation statistics, and NOT ONE MORE FAMILY destroyed, and NOT ONE MORE IMMIGRANT with their American dream cut short and treated like a second class citizen.

Our voice is added to the single voice that is part of the echo that is heard in the White House and in Capitol Hill.

To those who join forces with this struggle today.

To those who cry out in different plazas and streets today.

To those who have opened their hearts to a just cause.

To those who add their pen, their voice, their image, their untiring support, their now inseparable company.

To the girl, the boys, and the youth who exercise solidarity and love of their peers.

TO ALL OF YOU THANK YOU FOR NOT LEAVING US ALONE.

We will not let you down and we will carry out our contribution so that we signal to history, as many millions of immigrants have done before, that we too added to the strength and greatness of this GREAT COUNTRY.

We reiterate to Mr. President Barack Obama that he be bold and honor his word.

We send a signal to Congress to rise to the challenge of what is justly and morally asked of them.

NOT ONE MORE! YES WE CAN!

– Collective of NWDC-T Detainees

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ORIGINAL SPANISH-LANGUAGE VERSION OF STATEMENT:
Balance de una etapa de lucha

Hoy 1o de mayo se concluye una huelga de hambre de 30 días, con un preludio de 72 hrs de ayuno iniciado el 27 de marzo y que en un clima de persecución, hostigamiento y aplicación de correctivos disciplinarios, inventados y prefabricados por parte del persona de GEO (compañía de la iniciativa privada que administra el Northwest Detention Center – Tacoma “NWDC –T”), en un afán de impedir que sumemos nuestra voz a la voz de los que afuera claman Ni1Mas, alto a las deportaciones, no a la destrucción de familias, acción diferida para todos, si a la reforma migratoria; a pesar de padecer “audiencias” amañadas bajo acusaciones falsas, sin respetar el debido proceso, sacando de contexto acciones de los “acusados”, impidiendo la libre asociación de ideas y el ejercicio de la libertad de expresión así como el derecho a la información, ello en un ambiente personal voluntario y estrictamente pacifico, desencadenaron una ola de “sanciones disciplinarias” aplicando aislamiento y segregación a participantes en ayunos y huelgas de hambre, escalonadas del 24 de marzo al 2 de abril, con miras al gran acto del 5 de abril, y que implicaron sentencias de 2 a 30 días de castigo, que procuraban y procuran desalentar nuestra integración para volvernos una sola voz, sin importar si estamos afuera o adentro; con certeza afirmamos que no lograron contener y acallar, la voz de los de adentro, la voz de los detenidos, no lograron confiscar nuestro sentimiento, ni disposición de lucha a pesar de limitar drásticamente nuestros derechos acusándonos falsamente de sedición, la campaña para marginarnos por parte de una burocracia cruel e inescrupulosa que representa interés inmorales, indecentes no puede contra una lucha justa y que utiliza medios pacíficos para hacerse oír.

 

Los muros, las paredes que pretendían contener nuestra participación se han agrietado y con una integración cada vez mayor terminaremos derrumbarles; la voz que inicialmente costo trabajo filtrar hoy se escucha con mayor firmeza y claridad. Con dignidad, con orgullo nos honramos en señalar que también estamos presentes que nos sumamos a las tareas por venir hasta lograr que NI UNO MAS forme parte de la estadística de deportados, que NI UNA FAMILIA MAS sea destruida, que NI UN INMIGRANTE MAS se le trunque el sueño americano y que sea tratado como ciudadano de segunda.

 

Nuestra voz se ha sumado a una sola voz y es parte del eco que se escucha en la Casa Blanca y el Capitolio.

A los que hoy se hermanan con esta lucha.

A las que hoy claman es distintas plazas y calles.

A las y los que han abierto su corazón a una causa justa.

A las y los que suman su pluma, su voz, su imagen, su apoyo incansable, su ya inseparable compañía

A las niñas, niños y jóvenes que se ejercitan en la solidaridad y amor a su semejantes.

 

A TODOS USTEDES GRACIAS POR NO DEJARNOS SOLOS.

 

No los vamos a defraudar y cumpliremos con nuestra aportación para que a la historia señale como tantos millones de inmigrantes lo han hecho que también colaboramos a la fortaleza y grandeza de este GRAN PAIS.

 

Le reiteramos al Sr. Presidente Barack Obama sea audaz y honre su palabra.

 

Le señalamos al Congreso que esté a la altura de lo que justa y moralmente se le reclama.

 

NI UNO MAS! SI SE PUEDE!

 

 

– Colectivo Detenidos NWDC-T

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Petition on behalf of Hunger Strikers and latest press releases available at: www.notonemoredeportation.com/2014/03/10/detention-hunger-strike/