“There are lots of cops who came from another prison, they beat up the Cubans, they pepper spray them and handcuff them.” – Text Message sent from prisoner to immigration attorney Lara Nochomovitz
At around lunchtime, Friday, at 2984 Old Plain Dealing Road in Plain Dealing, LA, violence broke out at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility.
During a hunger strike protest, immigrants at the facility were pepper-sprayed for non-violent behavior as a way of “de-escalating the situation” according to Lt. Bill Davis of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, who referred to the incident as a “small disturbance around lunchtime.”
But while being pepper-sprayed is bad enough, immigrants are claiming to have been beaten along with at least one person being hospitalized for anxiety.
The hunger strike is one of many throughout the country, usually brought about by, not only inhumane treatment but extended incarceration. While Bossier officials claim that most immigrants are only held for about sixty to ninety days, detainees claim otherwise.
Along with that, attorney Nochomovitz says that immigrants have also been in solitary confinement and at times denied proper medical care. Detainees aren’t allowed to go outside daily, and no family visits are allowed.
At one point, it was common for all Cuban immigrants to be allowed legal immigration status, so long as they set foot on land. Called the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, this was ended during the tail end of the Obama administration in January 2017, just prior to Trump being sworn in. Since then Cuban immigrants are treated as poorly as any others.
All visitation rights at the facility will be suspended for the weekend.
More information as it becomes available.
To learn more, see Mother Jones’s recent article “Dozens of ICE Detainees Were Pepper-Sprayed by Guards for Protesting at a Louisiana Jail” available here.
Michael David Raso has worked as a writer, editor, and journalist for several different publications since graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. If you like this piece, you can read more of his work here.