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Protesters demand end to alleged abuse at ICE detention centers

Protesters outside San Francisco's ICE Office.
Helena Getahun-Hawkins
Bay City News
Protesters gather outside San Francisco's ICE Office on Thursday.

On Thursday, protesters gathered outside San Francisco’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to call attention to poor conditions at two ICE detention centers in the state. Protesters alleged that detainees at the Mesa Verde center — in Bakersfield — and the Golden State Annex Center — in Kern County — experienced medical neglect, malnourishment, and sexual abuse.

At Thursday’s protest, former detainee Jose Ruben Hernandez Gomez said that the conditions at the centers are “for financial gain from their part and at the cost of our suffering.”

Both centers are run by the private corporation the GEO Group. The company is one of the largest for-profit prison groups in the country, and in 2021 made a half-billion dollars from contracts with ICE.

And this isn’t the first time the group has made headlines. In 2022, GEO and ICE settled a class action lawsuitover their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in detention centers. In March of this year, current and former detainees at another California detention center sued the group over its use of toxic cleaning chemicals.

Regarding the protester’s concerns, a GEO spokesperson wrote that they “strongly reject these baseless allegations.”

Quinn is currently a sophomore at Amherst College, where she takes classes in history, Spanish, economics, and philosophy. She got introduced to radio through her college radio station and was lucky enough to be an intern in the KRCB newsroom last summer.