Local Farmer, Teacher Begins Jail Sentence for I.C.E. Protest

NEW BEDFORD, MA — On Tuesday morning, local community members and faith leaders gathered at the New Bedford District Court to support Holly, a local farmer and teacher who was sentenced to ten days in jail for an ICE related protest.

Holly was arrested in August with three others for peacefully blocking the entrances to the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth, MA. Bristol County Sheriff’s reacted to the action with violence, resulting in two demonstrators receiving traumatic brain injuries.

“We can only hope to change the world by staring injustice in the face and forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones. As walls are built and people are caged it is our obligation to stand in solidarity with the most active impacted people to that they know we see them and that their voices are heard.” — Holly.

The action was carried out by the FANG Collective — an intersectional direct action-focused based organization that mobilizes around issues of climate and racial justice. The action was part of FANG’s Shut Down ICE Campaign that has focused on supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees and ending 287(g) agreements in Massachusetts. These agreement allows for Sheriffs to carry out the duties of ICE officers and detain people on immigration charges.

The August action was taken in solidarity with ICE detainees who were on hunger strike to protest the dire, unsafe and inadequate conditions at the Bristol County facility. The hunger strike was mobilized by 60 immigration detainees, and eventually included more than 130 detainees in multiple immigration units. They highlighted severe issues such as lack of adequate medical care, food not safe for consumption, unreasonably high commissary prices and abuse from facility employees (as reported by Families for Freedom, a New York-based immigrant organization).

“I believe that if more people put their bodies where their hearts are we could show these powerful state institutions that they can not cage, torture, and separate people without consequences. We will not be silent, far too much is at stake” — Holly.

Holly began her sentence on Tuesday, marking one of the first instances that a person has been sentenced to jail time for an ICE related protest. This comes at a time when free speech and protest are becoming highly criminalized under the Trump administration. The three people arrested with Holly will go on trial in July.

Courtesy of The Fang Collective

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