GuestMilitant Journalism

Hunger strike starts at Tacoma Northwest Detention Center amid demands for improved conditions

On the morning of May 13, 13 people detained at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., began a hunger strike to protest a long series of indignities suffered inside the prison. The hunger strike follows a two-year failed response against COVID inside NWDC and a longer history of disregard and abuse on the part of detention authorities. 

The detainees have released the following list of demands, all of which address the poor conditions inside the facility: 

  1. We want our current clothes to be changed for new, clean clothes 
  2. For food to improve — the food given to us is terrible, all incredibly salty, with hard rice and beans 
  3. For commissary prices to come down, since everything is so expensive 
  4. For cleaning to be done in a proper way, not like the dirty ways we see now 
  5. For our jobs to be returned to us — with just pay
  6. For officers who stop by quarantined units not to be allowed in those units where there’s no COVID contagion because they put us all at risk
  7. For ICE officers to come do their rounds to provide us with information on our cases, since they are required to so on Wednesdays, including the ICE director 
  8. For in-person visits to start once again 
  9. For medical service to return — it’s currently horrible
  10. For lights to be turned off at 10:30, because we cannot sleep when the lights are on all night, and for them to be turned on again after 5 AM 

The list of demands allude to the outcome of the recent federal judicial order mandating NWDC to pay detained workers the minimum wage for any work they perform inside. However, following this outcome, NWDC authorities have taken away jobs and allowed for the detainees to continue to suffer in squalor. This coincides with another uptick in COVID cases at the facility. Just this month, there have been 13 COVID cases and counting among employees and people detained.

The Washington-based immigrant justice organization La Resistencia will hold two solidarity days: the first in coalition with students at the University of Washington, and the second with several organizations from Oregon that will hold a car caravan driving to NWDC from different points in their area on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15. They will elevate the voices of the detained people’s loved ones and demand justice for all inside, as well as a definitive shut down of the facility. 

WHAT: Rallies in solidarity with hunger strikers

WHEN: Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 1 p.m.

WHERE: NWDC, 1623 E J St., Tacoma, Wash.

WHO: La Resistencia members and communities in support of releasing people detained at NWDC

La Resistencia is a grassroots organization in Washington state led by undocumented people in solidarity with detainees at NWDC, fighting for the closing of the facility and an end to all detentions and deportations.

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