From the Field

Detainees go on hunger strike in Washington to denounce facility conditions

Lauren Taylor • Nov 05, 2014

Last Friday, immigrants detained in Tacoma, Washington went on hunger strike for the third time since January. The Northwest Detention Center, a private facility run by the GEO Group, is one of the largest detention centers on the west coast. Detainees are once again putting their bodies on the line in order to denounce horrible conditions and food, paltry pay, and exploitative fees. More broadly, they’re adding their voices to the call for not one more deportation.

“Our action is in the name of justice, hunger for freedom. Therefore the hunger of the body, for most of us, is not above the claim for justice.”

“Our action is in the name of justice, hunger for freedom,” said Cipriano Rios, one of the hunger strike leaders. “Therefore the hunger of the body, for most of us, is not above the claim for justice. Not one more! Stop families destruction!”

Supporters of those detained are camping out for four days to honor those who have died as a result of aggressive immigration enforcement policies.

Last spring, immigrants locked up at the Northwest Detention Center went on a hunger strike that at its height included 1200 detainees. The strike exposed the awful conditions and exploitation at the detention facility, which responded by punishing those who refused food. Strikers formed a collective, and released a statement denouncing the retaliation and declaring their continued commitment to the cause. They promised to continue fighting 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.”

They have made good on their promise.

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