Demands Grow For Investigation Of Anti-Blackness In Florida County Jail

October 25, 2021

Rebecca Talbot, Immigrant Action Alliance, [email protected], 484-645-3394
Jessica Schneider, Director of AI Justice’s Detention Program, [email protected]

A coalition of local and national organizations filed a civil rights complaint today calling for the release of people detained in immigration detention and for an investigation into serious abuses committed against two men detained in the county jail in Glades County, Florida. The two men, both Black immigrants, one from Liberia and one from Somalia, have reported violations of their civil and human rights, including inadequate medical care, physical assault, extended periods of solitary confinement, discriminatory abuse, and anti-Blackness during their detention at Glades.

The new complaint adds to the growing body of evidence that cases involving use of violent force against Black immigrants have become part of a documented pattern of anti-Black racism by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and their contractors. The violence detailed in the complaint falls within a chilling pattern of racialized brutalization against those in ICE custody, a practice which ICE leadership in Miami and elsewhere has permitted to persist.

“They are playing with my health. I don’t think that’s right,” said one of the men. “I feel personally targeted because of my race and because I’m Liberian. I feel like I’m not being heard here…I am used to being targeted for being Black and gay my whole life. I don’t think the way they treated me was right. I just want to be treated fairly. The stigma against Black people is very much alive.”

“I’m in here [in solitary confinement] for asking for my psych meds. If you know your rights, they put you in the hole,” the other individual reported. “I can’t wait for two or three weeks for my medication…You’re not stable when you’re not on the medications that your body got used to.”

Since the start of 2021 alone, Black immigrants detained by ICE in Glades County have filed multiple complaints involving assault–usually in areas where no cameras exist– and then placed in solitary confinement. To date, none of these cases has been resolved and in some cases, efforts to resolve them have resulted in retaliation for those detained.

“For years, many of our Black clients have reported racial slurs, discrimination and physical violence at the hands of Glades employees.These instances of anti-blackness raised in the complaint are not isolated incidents but part of a long standing pattern and practice at Glades,” stated Jessica Schneider, director of the Detention Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice.

The complaint calls for the immediate release of the two men to protect them from further abuse and reprisals, and for a formal investigation into the reported abuses, including the lapses in medical and psychiatric care described by the complainants. Further, the groups filing the complaint are calling for an investigation specifically into the conduct of the correctional officers allegedly responsible for the abuses who are employees of the Glades County Sheriff’s Office and sub-contractors of ICE.

The following organizations submitted the complaint on behalf the two individuals in Glades detention – Immigrant Action Alliance, Americans for Immigrant Justice, National Immigrant Justice Center, Freedom for Immigrants, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, United We Dream, Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, Florida Prisoner Solidarity, and Doctors for Camp Closure