From readers in Seattle:

April 5 UPDATE from outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington

April 7, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Support continues outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, where immigrants went on a hunger strike on March 7 of this year to protest their conditions. On Saturday, April 5, several hundred people responded to a call for a mass demonstration to make known the situation of the immigrant hunger strikers. A message from the detainees was read to the demonstrators: April 5 is the start of a renewed hunger strike!

Sound recordings made by lawyers of the detainees were played at the demonstration. One was the voice of a woman prisoner who said that women have also been in the hunger strike, and "conditions are not fit for dogs...great suffering in here...thanks for support!" There also were speakers from families of detainees. The wife of Ramone Mendoza Pascual said, "Ramone was sitting in a parked car and they gave him a DWI. Our three children and I are all alone outside. I saw him and he has lost so much weight. He will continue the hunger strike." Ramone's arrest has led to him being in various jails and detention with no clear end, and seeing the bad conditions and threat of deportation that all were living under, he joined the hunger strike as a way to fight against injustice.

Other testimony revealed how the prison is divided into small "pods" to keep communication limited, and new pods have been created for solitary confinement. Due to efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, 20 men have been released from solitary. These 20 had been tricked when guards came and asked if anyone wanted to come and speak about detention conditions. They volunteered and were then handcuffed, surrounded by officers in riot gear, and taken to solitary confinement! Four to five prisoners remain in solitary, and solitary is threatened for prisoners participating in the renewed hunger strike.

Revolutionaries at the demonstration were getting out the statement, in Spanish and English, by Carl Dix in Revolution newspaper, "Detained Immigrants Launch Hunger Strike: Support Detainees Putting Their Lives on the Line" and were talking to people about the causes of all this, how millions are driven to the U.S. by the devastation of their homelands by the U.S.-dominated global economy, and how once here they are cast down to the bottom tier of the economy and forced to exist in the margins of society without rights, under constant threat of being deported. Also distributed was the latest copy of Revolution with the March 15 interview with Maru Mora Villalpando of Latino Advocacy.

There were many Latinos at the demonstration, family and friends of detainees as well as activists. Also present were a large number of concerned people from the general population, including many young people. One young woman said, "I think citizenship is for everyone. Also health care, education, everything." A middle-age man said, "We should go to that gate [where detainees are taken inside] and lock it!" There was a general sense of injustice at the huge wave of deportations under Obama. Also apparent was a growing awareness of how solitary confinement is used as a form of torture and control.

We will support and bear witness to the renewed hunger strike that started today. These prisoners are putting their health and their lives on the line.


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