An immigration detainee protest sparked up in Etowah County Detention center, where around 50 activists got together to protest federal immigration policy and its relation to the Alabama detention center.
The protest was organized by Adelante Alabama, an organization which has led a “Shut Down Etowah” campaign for the past two years and staged several protests at the site. This particular protest featured a speaker and limited marches around the facility. William Anderson, a spokesman for the organization, criticized conditions at the facility and others around the nation, and called for what they considered much-needed immigration reform.
There were no arrests at this protest, with Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Natalie Barton saying “It was about like the previous protests we’ve had.”
One protest she refers to is the February demonstration criticizing the death of Ethiopian national Teka Gulema. At that point, demonstrators paraded around with an empty coffin and paid respects to Gulema, who had been detained last year but released by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Gulema was incarcerated for assault and other charges in Virginia, but was paralyzed by a bacterial infection and died on January, in a Gadsen hospital.
Adelante Alabama took the opportunity to focus attention on the other detainees in the federal detention center, as well as others around the country. In an attempt to illustrate problems faced by detainees at the jail, including poor medical care, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), an activist group based in San Francisco, filed a complaint on Gulema’s behalf against Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Adelante Alabama, along with 19 faith based organizations, also filed a brief during March supporting a dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Alabama’s governor to stop the federal government from placing refugees in the state. The status of said lawsuit is still pending, although the group continues its protests and campaigns throughout the state.