Georgia Detention Watch protests Stewart Detention Center - WRBL

Georgia Detention Watch protests Stewart Detention Center

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Hundreds of protesters came to Lumpkin this morning to call for the shut down of the Stewart Detention Center. The group calls this facility one of the worst in the United States.

The Georgia Detention Watch has been holding the march and vigil for the past 7 years. Ever since the Stewart Detention Center was opened. Activists say the conditions inside the facility are inhumane.

"Set them free, set them free," said the group.

It was the chant of more than 300 protesters Friday morning. From the steps of the courthouse in Lumpkin, hundreds traveled about 2 miles to reach their final destination at the Stewart Detention facility. Activists from all over the United States called for the shut down of the facility which houses around 2,000 undocumented civil detainees.

"They're treated like any criminal is treated by being locked up, denied privileges, denied access to their family," said JoAnn Persch, a protester.

And on the Georgia Detention Watch's long list of concerns, family visitation is right at the top.

"We are seeing every day children coming here to visit their fathers who will more than likely be deported and yet we don't give them the very basic needs of a family and that's to have contact with one another," said Anton Flores, one of the organizers of the protest.

The group also claims water service has been interrupted at the facility, American citizens have been unlawfully detained, and medical care is sub par. For one protestor, an undocumented immigrant, he has his own concerns about immigration detention.

"What if I was detained? What if I was put in deportation proceedings? And something that gives me inspiration to keep going and to not be afraid of these things, is the community and that I know as long as I work hard America is behind me," said Eduardo Samaniego.

Several requests to speak to a Stewart Detention Center representative were denied. Protesters say they will continue to hold marches and vigils at the facility until it's closed.

Several police officers and sheriff's deputies were on hand at the protest but it remained peaceful.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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