Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, Washington
July 14-17, 2018
More than 40 detainees in pod A2 begin a hunger strike “to share the opinions of mistreatment that occur inside, and to ask for changes in ICE and GEO’s policies” the detainees say in a public statement. The hunger strike lasts four days. In early July, supporters begin an encampment outside the detention center that lasts more than a month.
The occupation is inspired by the Occupy ICE movement that began in Portland, Oregon on June 17 and spread to New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit.
From the prisoners’ statement:
To the public, activists and media outlets,
We are writing this letter with the reason being that we have experienced many things in these last couple of days. We began the hunger strike in the pod A2 in the Northwest Detention Center with more than 40 detainees on strike beginning on July 14th 2018 to share the opinions of mistreatment that occur inside, and to ask for changes in ICE and GEO’s policies.
After three days we were not eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. The following Monday before lunch, we were finally able to speak with captain Portillo of the NWDC to try to reach some agreements, the captain promised us he would take this ideas, changes and new systems that we came up with to those the most powerful of this facility, but only if in exchange we were to end our strike and eat during lunch here in the A2 pod.
The first point of discussion was asking for bettering the clothes given to us, to obtain clean clothes for all detainees.
The second point was concerning more reasonable portions of food, with fruits and rations that were more full and bigger. One sandwich with ham and cheese doesn’t fill someone for 12 hours at night.
Third, change the policies related to visitation, so that detainees who are here for more than 365 days can have contact visitation at least every six months. Especially due to humanitarian and medical reasons. Captain Portillo promised to take this petition to his superiors and to ICE, to make these changes in policy.
The visits are and will continue to be special to us and important for people to have more reason to behave better and treat everybody with respect.
Many people that are spending year after year fighting their case, need a visit to be able to hug their children and their parents, especially those that have to leave their families here and who are deported. We all should have and we wish to have a right to a contact visitation with our families.
Lastly, we are conscious and support the ending of the payment of $1 a day for the work we do. The detainees that work up to 6 hours on occasion, which is still a violation, because for only $1 day after day. One of the jobs is to feed the more than 1,500 detainees in this place three times a day.
Honestly, we are tired of the mistreatment from the guards towards all of the detainees.
We send this petition to whatever media outlet so that they know and are informed of the suffering that we go through, and that we demand changes from GEO, ICE, and in addition the medical services here provided for the detainees in the Northwest Detention Center and all of the other detention centers in the United States.
Thank you very much,
Thank you for listening to us
People detained at NWDC Tacoma, WA
July 20, 2018
Some of those participating in the encampment outside the detention center released the following statement via Puget Sound Anarchists:
One month in, the encampment at the Northwest Detention Center immigration prison in Tacoma continues. While it has been much lower profile than #occupyicepdx, it is the site of the largest immigration prison on the west coast. Prisoners inside have repeatedly engaged in hunger strikes and other forms of resistance over the years.
Every night at 9pm is a rowdy noise demo. On Friday nights at 9:30 is a vigil.
The NWDC is run by the GEO Group, a multinational private prison corporation. Their transport buses are parked across the street from the prison inside a chain-link fence. On multiple occasions people have blocked deportation buses. Last night’s vigil turned into an impromptu hard blockade – fencing was torn down and piled in front of the gate that prisoners are transported in and out of, cones and signs were placed in the driveway that the guards use, and a hard blockade of pallets, railroad ties, fencing, and signs was erected in the street.
If you have experience with blockades and occupations, if you hate the concentration camp and its world, if you don’t want imaginary lines called borders, come to Tacoma. The encampment needs your energy. Don’t overlook this strategic chokepoint.
Check out @occupyicenwdc on Twitter for updates from camp!
“Protesters fighting for immigrant rights camp outside Northwest Detention Center“, Q13 Fox, June 23, 2018.
“Portland’s Occupy ICE movement spreads to other cities“, The Oregonian, June 23, 2018.
“Northwest Detention Center encampment continues, hard barricades erected“, Puget Sound Anarchists, July 28, 2018.
NWDC Resistance/ Resistencia al NWDC @NWDCResistance, July 30, 2018, PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM PEOPLE DETAINED AT NWDC. [Facebook Post]. Accessed January 21, 2019.
“Anarchists join protests at Northwest Detention Center“, Tacoma Weekly, August 2, 2018.