Close Down Polk: Expose & Close Vigil on December 8th

Activists marching outside the Polk detention center
As part of the national Expose & Close campaign, Grassroots Leadership, Texans United for Families, and Houston Unidos led a vigil this Saturday outside of the IAH (Polk) County Secure Adult Detention Center. Over a hundred community members from a diverse coalition of human rights group gathered to call for the closure of the detention center, highlight the continued human rights abuses, and denounce profiteering from the detention of immigrants in the US.  Activists from Austin had previously toured the facility and found atrocious conditions – detained men eat, sleep, and use the bathroom all in one room, spend up to twenty three hours in their crowded cells, and have little access to family or legal aid on the outside.  Sam Vong, one of the authors of a report on the facility, "witnessed horrible conditions" and says that "ICE must shut down this facility as a first step towards reducing its detained population."

The protesters assembled outside of the detention center participated in a program organized by TUFF member and videographer Matt Gossage that included performances by community members and local artists.  Pamela Resendez, who was detained in Hutto after speaking out against police brutality in her community, decried the treatment of immigrants under the current system; a man formerly detained at the Polk Detention Center described his experience in the facility, including guard-on-inmate violence and forced labor.  Annanda Barclay, a student at Austin Theological Presbyterian Seminary, called on the Christian community to show support for their detained brothers and sisters in Christ saying, “this is anti God, this is anti Christ, this is not ok.  Prisons for profit are a form of enslavement.”  Son Armado and Fandango Tejas performed music and Natalie Goodnow directed a theatre performance. 

 

Annanda Barclay leads a prayer at the Polk protest

In solidarity with the men behind Polk Detention Center’s wall, activists cried “We see you!  We hear you!  We are here!”

Many thank to all the people who made this vigil so successful, some who are listed here and many who are not; thanks in addition to the dozens who dedicated their Saturday to protesting the human rights violations at the detention center.  To see footage from the event, please visit Matt Gossage’s video on Youtube.