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Activists shut down Massachusetts DOC to resist collaboration with ICE



An activist was arrested by the Massachusetts State Police on Thursday morning when she and another person locked themselves to concrete blockades in front of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections headquarters in Medford, Massachusetts, shutting down traffic in and out of the facility. The protesters were joined by people who carried banners that read, “MASS D.O.C. END YOUR 287G” and “FREE THEM ALL / END DEPORTATION / END INCARCERATION.”

The protest was scheduled as part of The FANG Collective‘s “Week of Action to #ShutDownICE” from June 23-29th. The Week of Action is timed with the June 30th expiration of the United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) agreements across the country. These agreements with ICE allow law enforcement agencies to question people about their immigration status, detain people on immigration charges and carry out the duty of ICE officers.

“I’m taking action in solidarity with all the people whose lives, bodies, and families are put at risk everyday by the state,” said Anusha, who was arrested after being detached from her concrete barricade by first responders. “There is no nation, no borders, no profit, no amount of comfort that is worth a human life. I am calling on the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to end its 287(g) agreement. I’m calling on people to take action today and everyday to abolish prisons and ICE.”

“End deportations, end incarcerations, end family separations, and we won’t stop until we’re all free,” said Steven, who voluntarily detached himself from his concrete barricade and was not arrested.

Here’s video from the 2 hour 40 minute lockdown:


See also: Woman arrested during protest at Department of Corrections headquarters in Milford by Lauren Young of the Milford Daily News

Here are some pictures from the action:

On Tuesday evening activists disrupted the monthly meeting of the Plymouth County Police Officers Association, urging Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald to end the County’s 287(g) agreement with I.C.E.

The activist group asked Sheriff McDonald not to renew the County’s 287(g) agreement. McDonald responded by saying, “you know the answer to that question, the contract will be renewed.” The activists held a banner saying , “PLYMOUTH COUNTY END YOUR 287G AGREEMENTS” and they chanted “Shame, Shame, Shame” as they left the building.

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In addition to Plymouth County’s 287(g) agreement, it also has an intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) with ICE, which allows ICE to reserve space and hold detainees at local facilities.

“We took action tonight in honor of the lives of Sophorn Sam and the lives of many unknown names, that were lost at the hands of Sheriff Joseph McDonald’s deportation,” wrote the FANG Collective in a statement. Sophron Sam was deported from Plymouth County and died after returning to Cambodia. “We are going to keep comforting Sheriff Joseph McDonald and the entire Plymouth County Police Force until we see an end to these contracts.”

The FANG Collective writes:

Every year thousands of people are detained and deported by ICE through the 287(g) program. Currently, 80 law enforcement agencies in 21 states have 287(g) agreements with ICE. In May, ICE announced an extension of the 287(g) program called the Warrant Service Officers (WSO) initiative. It allows participating agencies to arrest and detain people who have been issued warrants by ICE, even if local measures aimed at limiting the power of ICE in the area, such as “sanctuary city” policies, are in place. 10 counties in Florida and Georgia have already signed up for the new program.

Organizers nationwide are calling on municipalities and law enforcement agencies to refrain from renewing these agreements and cut ties with ICE after their expiration. The FANG Collective is a direct action and community organizing group based in Rhode Island whose #ShutDownICE campaign has organized to end 287(g) agreements between ICE and Sheriff Departments in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Corrections is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for its abuse of elderly and ill prisoners as well as subjecting inmates to months and even years in solitary confinement. The department was earlier investigated in 2018 regarding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The #ShutDownICE campaign began in August 2018 when four members of the FANG Collective were violently arrested after peacefully blockading the entrances of the Bristol County House of Corrections in solidarity with hunger striking ICE detainees being held at the facility. One of the protestors was sentenced to ten days in jail for their role in the action, and the other three people who took part in the action are going to trial in July and are potentially facing jail time.

The week of action continues on Saturday with a planned “Rally Against ICE” at the Bristol County House of Corrections.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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