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Mass hunger strike NWDC

Maru Mora Villalpando  |  Issue: May | June 2020

Detained people begin mass hunger strike to highlight their plight. 80+ people refuse all food amidst coronavirus exposure fears

Tacoma, WA – On Friday, March 27, 2020, 30 people caged at the infamous and medically negligent Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) began a hunger strike to call attention to their suffering and plight.

Members of a single unit — called a pod by NWDC — began their hunger strike soon after a peer with COVID-19-like symptoms was seen vomiting while GEO guards removed him. (GEO Group is the private for-profit company that owns and runs this facility.)

Wracked with debilitating anxiety and fear that every day inside NWDC places their lives in danger, people detained have been forced to go on hunger strike to call attention to their inhumane treatment and to the callousness of GEO and its employees during this pandemic.

“We don’t want to die. We are humans, not animals,” said one hunger striker who reached out to La Resistencia.

Speaking to Mora-Villalpando by phone, they explained the urgency.

“We want to be released because in here there’s no protection from the virus. In our unit there are 80 people, at least 75 of us are on hunger strike today [Saturday, March 28, 2020]. Two other units have joined us with 20 to 50 people also on hunger strike.”

The strike is indefinite until the following demands are met:

  1. Provide humanitarian temporary visa for those inside;
  2. Reunite those detained with their families;
  3. Stop all deportation and immigration proceedings until the pandemic has concluded.

With every passing hour, more people detained inside NWDC are learning of the strike and are joining in.

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