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Tacoma: 24-hour vigil and encampment in response to death at ICE detention center

By staff

Activists gather in street. Some carry signs.

Tacoma, WA - On March 12, an encampment began outside Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center in response to the death of Charles Leo Daniel, who committed suicide after over two years of solitary confinement. This followed two subsequent suicide attempts inside the detention center. 

La Resistencia, a group that has been organizing to shut down the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) for over a decade, led the action alongside Tsuru for Solidarity. 300 detainees have also gone on hunger strike while eight hunger strikers have joined from the outside. 

The Northwest Detention Center is a for-profit prison for ICE detainees owned and managed by the Geo Group.  

Maru Mora-Villalpando, a La Resistencia leader, stated the organization was present “to watch ICE because lives are in danger.” 

Mora-Villalpando, one of the outside hunger strikers, said she will not be ending her hunger strike until Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray agree to conduct an independent investigation into the NWDC. 

Throughout the week, ambulances arrived at least once a day, and on March 14 a laundry fire broke out. Geo Group refused to evacuate the building even though flames were seen rising from the roof. No one was seriously injured. 

On March 16, an event hosted by La Resistencia and Tsuru for Solidarity brought 60 people to the gates of the camp – gates resting eerily next to train tracks along the heavily polluted Tacoma waterfront. The people present marched to the camp, chanted “Chinga la migra,” followed by an opening ceremony. 

Becca Asaki, whose family was sent to internment camps during World War II, stated she was there because “our struggles are connected. There is a long history of forced removal, and family separation, and mass incarceration, and mass deportation, that my family experienced, that many families have experienced for generations.” 

Protesters also did a hand washing ceremony to honor the hunger strikers both inside and outside along with a grieving ceremony, followed by speeches from inside the detention center and a cultural offering from the detainees. 

“Direct action gets the goods and is the most effective tactic we working-class people have to end the oppression we all face. Now, more than ever, anyone in the Tacoma area who claims to care for their fellow man, must get to the center and stand in solidarity with our brothers detained, because an injury to one is an injury to all,” said Sean Marakin, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization who has been out supporting La Resistencia at the encampment. “Geo and ICE can laugh at us, but at the end of the day they are afraid of us,” added Maru Mora-Villalpando. 

Organizers are still camped out outside of the Northwest Detention Center and are urging the community to continue to show up to daily vigils and support the encampment.

#TacomaWA #LaResistencia #ChingaLaMigra #JusticeforCharlesLeoDaniel #ShutDownNWDC