There are no riots going on at the Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats.
A cluster of articles at the Tacoma Website for Students for a Democratic Society appear to be an April Fool’s gag. The site frequently features news about the detention center, which groups associated with the site have opposed for various reasons, including human rights and environmental concerns.
The giveaways: quotes from “Tiffany Lizealot,” supposedly a spokeswoman for the GEO Group, the private company that runs the facility. (Lies a lot, get it?)
Also: it also quotes “barista Lorie Dankers” — Lori Dankers (no e) is a spokeswoman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She is frequently quoted in real stories about the detention center.
Here’s the post:
Riot at NWDC*
Posted April 1st, 2009 by Anonymous
*SDS is unable to confirm the accuracy of this post as of 7:35am*
On April 1st, some 1,200 detainees staged an uprising at the privately run Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, to demand better medical treatment after a detainee died at the facility, allegedly of natural causes. The Northwest Detention Center has been functioning since 2004 and is owned and operated by the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, under contract with the federal government.
The medium security prison holds more than 1200 people, mainly inmates detained for immigration law violations. The uprising took place after the detainee’s body was removed from the prison, Washington State Safety Trooper John Barton told the AP.
“The prisoners set a fire in the law library at the facility took two prison recreation workers hostage. The facility went into an emergency evacuation mode and detainees were evacuated to an outdoor exercise yard. However, due to recent expansion and construction at the facility the security fence had been removed. The GEO staff appears to have opened the wrong door and now we have detainees all over the Tideflats and downtown Tacoma.”
“At this time the facility staff has abandoned the entire facility. They just walked out. We are having some issues of jurisdiction. The responsibility for controlling the inside of the facility rests with GEO and the City of Tacoma Police Department. ” Barton stated. Pierce and King County Sheriff special units have deployed and the Tacoma PD Command Center is functioning as the overall incident control center. The GEO Group Emergency Response team attempted to control the uprising before contacting local authorities and a battle raged through the central corridor and booking area until they were overwhelmed by the detainees.
Tiffany Lizealot, a GEO Spokesperson stated, “We believe they have 28 hostages at this time, but we are still trying to confirm how many employees and staff were in the facility at the time of the uprising. The escaped detainees are everywhere and small groups are roaming the City setting fires and causing disruption. We believe they received outside help and assistance. We believe our employees acted correctly and we are concerned by the slow response by the Tacoma PD and other local authorities which allowed this situation to spin out of control.”
Detainees have taken at least 4 boats from the downtown marina and small groups of 5 to 10 detainees – many still in blue, orange and red prison garb – were seen at local restaurants and coffee shops.
“I thought they were protester’s, ya know, complaining about Gitmo or something – they had money – so I served them. They seemed like very nice people.” Said barista Lorie Dankers at the Dew Drop Inn Expresso Stand and Bodega located on E Clarence Street.
The AP reported that firefighters had to extinguish bonfires that inmates set to keep warm overnight.
About 30 agents from the Border Patrol’s were deployed to the detention center in response to the incident. The border agents arrived with an assortment of less-than-lethal weapons, an armored vehicle and support from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air & Marine Huey helicopter. CBP used the helicopter to allow a prison official to conduct aerial surveillance of the compound.
The border agents surrounded the facility and guarded the perimeter but apparently did not enter it. After about 17 hours, negotiators from the Tacoma Police Department are attempting to end the uprising and secure the release of the hostages. Barton, the WSP trooper, said there were major injuries during the standoff; he declined to say who or how many people were hurt.