Tacoma, WA – Following their participation in a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, over twenty men were placed in solitary confinement at the GEO Group-run detention facility. According to attorneys who spoke to several of the men, GEO Group officers came to their section of the immigration prison on the morning of March 27, and asked if anyone wanted to speak to detention center officials about the detention conditions. The twenty men who volunteered followed the officers out of their cells. Believing they were headed to a negotiation on hunger strike demands, the men were instead handcuffed, surrounded by officers in riot gear, and taken into solitary confinement. Other individuals believed to be taking part in the hunger strike were taken into solitary confinement over the weekend, attorneys who have visited the center confirmed.
Family members visiting the facility this weekend were shocked to see their loved ones brought to the visiting area in shackles and surrounded by four guards each. One family member described her children bursting into tears upon seeing their father, one of those placed in solitary confinement, in this condition during their weekly visit.
This latest incident of retaliation against the hunger strikers follows the placement of U.S. Army Veteran Hassall Moses in solitary confinement for writing a letter proposing a work stoppage in addition the hunger strike. Moses remains in solitary confinement. Speaking on Moses’s case, immigrant activist Maru Mora Villalpando stated, “ICE and GEO Group defend the $1 a day work program, claiming it is fully voluntary, and yet they have placed Mr. Moses in solitary confinement for calling for a work stoppage. Instead of coming to the table to negotiate on hunger striker demands, ICE is engaging in outrageous forms of retaliation.”