Bossier Medium Security Facility, Plain Dealing, Louisiana
July 26 – August 2, 2019
Approximately 30 immigrant detainees were pepper-sprayed following a protest in the cafeteria of the Bossier Medium Security Facility. The protest occurred in the midst of a hunger strike at the facility that began Friday, July 26.
Text messages from a detainee within the facility obtained by Mother Jones described the violent incident: “There are lots of cops who came from another prison, they beat up the Cubans, they pepper spray them and handcuff them. There’s even an ambulance here. Help us please this is ugly!”
According to Bill Davis, a spokesperson for the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office who spoke with Buzzfeed News, detainees “began yelling and becoming disorderly, throwing their food trays at the door.”
Guards responded with “a short burst of [pepper spray] in the air towards the disorderly group,” said Davis, who denied that the force used by guards went beyond pepper spray.
“We cannot have an uprising period,” he said.
Davis told Newsweek that the hunger strike began late the previous week and involved 68 of the around 300 immigrant detainees at the facility. By Monday, August 2, there were 12 strikers remaining, said Davis. The facility, which houses approximately 600 prisoners in all, began contracting with ICE late last year and houses both immigrant detainees and non-immigrant prisoners. The majority of the immigrants detained at the facility are Cuban.
According to attorney Lara Nochomovitz, who initially received the text messages obtained by Mother Jones, the hunger strike had been “going on and off for a while.”
According to Davis, the hunger strikers are upset about a lack of communication with ICE about their immigration cases.
The hunger strike at Bossier marks the third hunger strike at a Louisiana ICE Detention Facility in a month. The day after the cafeteria protest at Bossier, approximately 100 immigrant detainees at the ICE Processing Center in Pine Prairie were pepper-sprayed during a protest on the facility’s yard.
“Dozens of ICE Detainees Were Pepper-Sprayed by Guards for Protesting at a Louisiana Jail“, Mother Jones, August 2, 2019.
“BREAKING: As Hunger Strikes Erupt Nationwide In ICE Detention, Immigrants Subjected To Retaliation and Excessive Force“, Freedom for Immigrants, August 6, 2019.
“Hunger Strike at River Correctional Facility, Louisiana“, Perilous, July 9, 2019.
“Hunger Strike and Protest at Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, Louisiana“, Perilous, July 27, 2019.