Filed under: Action, Capitalism, Featured, Immigration, US
While pushed out of the media cycle, the Abolish ICE movement has continued full steam ahead, with mass actions and protests being organized throughout the country, while a variety of ongoing divestment campaigns have kept on pressure against various targets.
This action is happening against a backdrop of death, sexual abuse, continued family separations, horrific conditions, and attempts by ICE to operate as a agency beholden to no one. On October 17th, a Cuban asylum seeker, Roylan Hernández Díaz, 43, was found dead inside the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana, “the second one in ICE custody this month,” following the death of a 37 year old Cameroonian man. This Saturday, hundreds of doctors and medical personnel are expected to march on the White House against medical conditions and for the closure of ICE concentration camps.
An editorial by one of the doctors wrote:
News reports and other testimonies have documented substandard and even terrible conditions: no running water, no soap, no beds, inedible food. Medications have been taken away from those who need them; outbreaks have occurred and the government has decided not to provide vaccines. This is unacceptable.
Individuals who await decisions while in detention risk worsening of chronic medical conditions, development of new illnesses and pregnancy complications, and even death. Those dying in immigration custody include at least seven children, among them Felipe Gomez Alonzo, Carlos Gregorio Hernandez and Jakelin Call Maquin.
But such horror has also helped fuel continued resistance. In Tacoma, WA, hundreds of detainees at the Northwest Detention Center, again launched a hunger strike against abysmal conditions. Acts of anti-ICE sabotage and vandalism continue to take place. Mass actions have also been organized outside of facilities and against companies that have contracts with ICE.
People detained at #Tacoma #ICE Processing Center aka NWDC began a #hungerstrike protesting poor food conditions, inhumane treatment, is the 19th such action in the last 5 years. They also joined the call to #CloseTheCamps #AbolishICE #ShutdownNWDC @ConMijente @DetentionWatch pic.twitter.com/zAhvk0vNRL
— LaResistencia_NW (@ResistenciaNW) October 18, 2019
This movement continues to make huge strides and deliver heavy blows to corporate businesses keeping for-profit prisons afloat. As Non-Profit Quarterly wrote:
[Activists] went after the lifeblood of for-profit corporations: money and credit. They pressured the banks who finance private prison companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group to divest and end those relationships. And this week, they reached a milestone: every existing bank partner to GEO Group has officially committed to breaking ties.
As Forbes wrote:
All of the publicly known existing banking partners providing lines of credit and term loans to private prison leader GEO Group have now officially committed to ending ties with the private prison and immigrant detention industry.
…international credit rating agency Fitch downgraded CoreCivic from stable to negative, and stock prices for both companies now near historic lows. The one year returns to investors for both GEO Group and CoreCivic are down nearly 30%, which classifies them as significantly underperforming when compared to other entities in their investment class….
Anarchists and abolitionists have also been part of the push back by organizing a week of action against selected targets still doing business with ICE. Responding to a call for protests and direct actions against Prudential from September 23rd – 30th, groups across the US took part, here’s a roundup.
September 23rd: Mobilizing in Durham, NC, people disrupted and shutdown an office belonging to State Street Corp, which owns bonds in CoreCivic and GeoGroup.
September 24th: People mobilized in Okemos, Michigan to demand that Prudential divest from ICE. From a statement:
We, the No Detention Centers in Michigan coalition, demand that Prudential Financial, Inc. immediately divest from The GEO Group, Inc. and all other private prison companies.
By investing in GEO, Prudential and its customers directly profit off the imprisonment of tens of thousands of people. The GEO Group has been subject to many lawsuits regarding inhuman conditions, improper medical care, torture, forced labor, sexual abuse, and deaths at their facilities. Furthermore, private detention centers run by GEO and other companies play a central role in the persecution of immigrants in the United States; today over 60% of people in ICE detention are held in private facilities, with GEO being the largest ICE contractor. We do not want our life insurance, mutual funds, retirement funds, etc. to support these atrocities!
This year, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, FifthThird Bank, and PNC Bank have all made firm commitments to stop financing the private prison industry. While the nature of your company’s ties to the industry is different (holding stock vs providing credit), the moral imperative to sever ties is the same.
We recognize that you, personally, are in no position to make investment decisions for the entire company. However, as a Prudential employee, you are in a better position to push for change than we are. We demand that you take a public stand against your company’s investment in the private prison industry and encourage others within the company to do the same.
Prudential is one of the largest investors in GEO stock, though private prison stock makes up an incredibly small percentage of Prudential’s overall portfolio. This puts your employer in a position to make a real impact without sacrificing anything significant. We will continue to protest at Prudential offices across the state until the company divests.
No Detention Centers In Michigan at Prudential Financial in Okemos, Michigan.
Posted by Theresa Rosado on Tuesday, September 24, 2019
September 25th: Protest in Sherman Oaks, California demanded that Prudential divest from ICE. From a report:
On Wednesday, September 25th, the @lacatholicworker, members of @abolishicela and supporters descended on the Prudential Financial offices in Sherman Oaks. A national series of actions took place this week demanding Prudential Financial divest completely from GEO Group, the for-profit private prison company that runs Adelanto (among other immigrant detention facilities and jails around the country). As GEO prepares to open a new detention facility in Baldwin, Michigan, it is imperative Prudential cease being complicit in the caging of humans and torturing of children as one of GEO Groups primary financiers. Roughly 35 activists protested outside Prudential as two others disrupted business inside their offices. The corporate offices of Prudential refused to permit the office to have the activists arrested – the notion of caging people for protesting the caging of people was publicity they didn’t want.
September 26th: People in Grand Rapids, Michigan organized a phone-zap campaign. From their call out:
Prudential Financial is one of the largest shareholders in GEO Group, a private detention firm that operates immigrant detention centers and prisons around the country. Over 60% of people in ICE detention are held in private facilities and GEO Group is the single largest ICE contractor. Since its founding in 1984, GEO has been subject to countless lawsuits regarding inhumane conditions at their facilities, improper medical care, torture, forced labor, sexual abuse, and death.
GEO Group plans to open an immigrant prison in Baldwin, Michigan on October 1st. Upon opening, the North Lake Correctional Facility would be the only “Criminal Alien Requirement” facility in the entire Midwest. As part of a national week of action from September 23rd through September 30th organized by No Detention Centers in Michigan, we’ll be calling Prudential’s local office in Grand Rapids on Thursday, September 26th to urge that Prudential cut ties with this industry by divesting from GEO and all other private detention firms. Please join us and spread the word to anyone you may know who has money invested through Prudential: it’s time to get #PrudentialOutOfGEO.
September 27th: Mobilization in Farmington Hills, Michigan to demand that Prudential divest from ICE. From a report:
Moratorium NOW! Coalition and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) held a noon-time demonstration in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb right outside Detroit at the Prudential Financial office on Fri. Sept. 27, 2019. This demonstration was in response to a call by No Detentions in Michigan to protest Prudential’s investment in the GEO private prison system which detains immigrants from oppressed nations as well as African Americans in the United States. Prudential is the 6th largest investor in GEO Group and the 5th investor in CoreCivic. GEO Group and CoreCivic manage private prisons/immigrant detention centers. GEO Group is planning to open a detention center in Baldwin, Michigan.The actions were statewide demanding the disinvestment by Prudential and the closing of these concentration camps.
Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire
September 27th: Banner drops against Prudential in Petoskey, Michigan.
GEO Group, one of the largest prison corporations in the country, is opening a private immigrant prison in Baldwin, Michigan—located in the poorest county in the state.
While GEO Group reports that they are offering good jobs to a community facing high unemployment rates, their actual practices paint a different picture. Despite promises to hire mostly people from Lake County, in the days before the opening GEO Group confessed that only 69 out of approximately 300 new hires came from Lake County, about 23% of the total jobs. And in addition to being a fiercely anti-union company, GEO requires a pre-employment credit check as part of its hiring process, excluding the most economically disadvantaged from employment opportunities.
Despite this track record, Baldwin village president Jim Truxton remains supportive of the project. In a recent interview, Truxton seemed intent on ignoring GEO Group’s exploitative practices, asking “How is it any different than GM building a new plant in the Detroit area?” In a county that consistently prioritizes an economy based upon its natural resources, tourism, and outdoor recreation, Truxton’s personal stake in the project as an owner of GEO Group stock seems to have outweighed any real concern for his constituency.
“I was angry when I heard the comparison between an immigrant prison and a GM plant. Manufacturing anything is not the same as guarding people held in cages. I am retired from a GM plant. We fought hard to be treated with respect. Our strike now is to maintain that compensation and fair treatment fought for by the UAW. GM didn’t treat us well at all, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be working somewhere without our Union,” says Miriam Pickens, retired UAW and GM worker. “And as union members our principle is solidarity, which means we don’t want our jobs to get used as an excuse to lock up immigrant workers, members of our class, and pay poverty wages for guards to keep people in cages.”
“To compare GEO Group’s history of caging and torturing people with car manufacturing is a textbook example of dehumanization,” says Rachel Davis, a member of the group No Detention Centers in Michigan. “These cells will be filled with human beings who’ve been forcibly separated from their families and communities. We’ve spoken with people in Baldwin–yes, they want jobs! But if they actually had the power to choose, they would not choose to work at GEO Group’s prison. Because of the greed of people like Jim Truxton and the cruelty of our country’s immigration policies, prison work is forced onto their community by billionaires and racists.”
Three arrests taken, please support at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/occupy-ice-detroit-support-fund
Posted by Occupy ICE Detroit on Tuesday, October 1, 2019
October 16th: Protests organized in Sacramento, CA against GEO Group.
These actions are just part of a group tapestry of resistance to ICE and surveillance and prison society. Already, another call for a week of action has gone up.