Tacoma, WA—This morning, 20 detainees being held in solitary confinement at the Northwest Detention Center in retaliation for engaging in a hunger strike were released from segregation, due to the pressure of litigation. The released detainees include 25-day hunger striker Jesus Gaspar Navarro, who had been placed in solitary confinement following a stay in medical isolation after ending his historic strike. The ACLU of Washington and Columbia Legal Services had filed a temporary restraining order and injunction on behalf of these individuals, seeking a court order to halt the ongoing retaliation against detainees engaged in the hunger strike and related activities. Those released are happy to be out of isolation.
The individuals released had been in solitary confinement since March 27, when United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers implied that detainees could meet with an assistant warden to discuss their reasons for being on hunger strike. Instead, these detainees were handcuffed as soon as they left their unit and were immediately placed in administrative segregation for 23 hours a day, with no human contact, access to a telephone, television, or written materials. None of these individuals were told from the outset why they were placed in solitary confinement. We refer you to the ACLU for details related to the lawsuit.
While solitary confinement has ended at this time for these individuals, other hunger strikers remain in isolation. Army Veteran Hassall Moses remains in solitary confinement after being charged with inciting a work stoppage, even though work done by the detainees at the detention center is allegedly voluntary. Ramon Mendoza Pascual remains in administrative segregation due to his involvement in the hunger strike. Mr. Mendoza Pascual was given a hearing in which one ICE officer acted as the translator, witness, and adjudicator.
An opportunity to support these courageous individuals, including those still being held in isolation, occurs April 5 at the Northwest Detention Center. Hundreds of supporters and family members of the hunger strikers will be gathering for a rally, march, and workshops from noon to 5pm. Speakers include released hunger striker Jose Moreno, families of those currently detained, and leaders of strike support efforts Maru Mora Villalpando, Angelica Chazaro, and Sandy Restrepo. Also featured will be music by Olympia’s Artesian Rumble Arkestra, the Seattle Fandango Project, poetry, and education about the detention center and history of immigrant activism.