CENTERVILLE – Police in Centerville arrested eight protesters for trespassing inside the office building of a private prison corporation.
They were upset with the now-reversed U.S. policy of separating families at the border.
KSL asked organizer Taylor Goldstein about going into a private building to protest when her group could have put themselves in harm’s way, instead of receiving police and First Amendment protections outside in public.
“Well, we wanted to stop business as usual,” Goldstein explained. “We wanted to show how important this was to us by risking arrests.”
Her group had no proof of abuse by private prison firm Management and Training Corp., especially at detention centers where Immigration and Customs Enforcement had separated, and reunited, immigrant families illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The eight protestors chained themselves together. One of them used a U-shaped bicycle lock that she looped through a door handle around her neck.
“They demanded that we join them as law enforcement, and handcuff ourselves with them to be on their side,” said Police Lt. Zan Robison.
He told them, “That’s not going to happen.”
Four police agencies with a mobile command unit responded to the protest. Robison called that a burden on resources.
“We would have liked to be available to handle other calls that could come in,” he said.
In a statement, Management and Training Corp. said it would have been happy to meet with the protestors, but instead, they “refused to comply with police to leave private property.”
The company also said its hearts go out to the families separated at the border, but none of the three ICE detention centers it operates holds children.
It adds it has no say over immigration policies, including the reversed one that had separated immigrant parents from children.
The company also said it respects the right to protest, but protesters “don’t have the right to break the law” by invading private property.
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