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May Day Actions Target For-Profit Detention Center

Colorado May Day events will culminate in a vigil outside the GEO Group's detention center in Aurora. (Gabriela Flora)
Colorado May Day events will culminate in a vigil outside the GEO Group's detention center in Aurora. (Gabriela Flora)
May 1, 2017

DENVER – Thousands of immigrants and supporters are expected to rally Monday, May Day, in Denver's Civic Center Park and later will hold a vigil outside a for-profit detention center run by the GEO Group in suburban Aurora .

They're hoping to draw attention to the role migrants play in the state's economy, and also send a message to the Trump administration.

Jeremy Bermudez, an organizer with the group Get REAL, says President Donald Trump's attempts to demonize some of the nation's most vulnerable communities is having real-world impacts.

"Because of the increase of the hate crimes in the LGBTQ community, as well as the immigrant community, as well as the continued police brutality cases that arise, we feel we have a moral responsibility to stand up and speak out," he states.

The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 bias-related incidents in the first 10 days after Trump was elected. Since taking office, Trump has pushed for building a wall and beefing up security on the U.S.-Mexico border, singled out crimes committed by immigrants, and – in a move recently blocked by a federal court – ordered federal money to be withheld from so-called sanctuary cities.

Monday's May Day event is one of more than 100 actions planned across the U.S.

The GEO Group is the second largest private prison operation in the U.S., and currently is facing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 62,000 detainees who say they were threatened with solitary confinement if they refused to work for a dollar a day.

GEO denies the charges.

Pamela Resendiz, managing director of the Front Range Economic Strategy Center (FRESC) is attending Monday night's vigil because she maintains the conditions in the GEO Group's 1,500 bed facility in Aurora are inhumane.

"Regardless of the immigration status of any human being, they need to be treated with respect and dignity and should have access to legal resources, medical attention and nutritious food," she states.

Denver's immigrant community was rocked last week when Arturo Hernandez Garcia, an undocumented worker with no criminal record, was arrested and put into detention.

In 2015, Garcia spent nine months in a sanctuary church until Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him he was not a priority for deportation.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO