Bergen County Jail ICE protests escalate as hunger strike continues
Peaceful protests escalated after members of the media were arrested for standing on a sidewalk cordoned off by police.
Dec. 12 was the 29th day of the hunger strike for ICE detainees at Bergen County Jail.
Ever since the strike started, protestors have stood outside everyday in solidarity with them. Demonstrations began to escalate on Friday, Dec. 11, after one protesters was arrested after a brief altercation with police positioned outside the jail.
Those tensions grew tenfold the next day, Saturday, Dec. 12.
That afternoon, a person on the sidewalk outside of the Bergen County Jail was approached by law enforcement for being on the wrong side of the road from the protests, which were on the other side.
Law enforcement told the individual to go back across the street, where the other protesters were.
The individual responded that the sidewalk was public property and he had the right to practice his first amendment right to protest.
The person was then arrested along with two to three other people. After the initial arrests, the protestors marched down to the courthouse where they were met with more law enforcement and then made their way back to the jail.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. law enforcement started walking across the street towards the demonstrators while brandishing batons and shields.
In the aftermath of the encounter, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton said in a statement on Sunday that the protesters had assaulted the officers, were blocking traffic, and trespassed on jail property.
The cops then proceeded to push the protesters and then let out ‘tactical smoke’ grenades to disperse the crowd.
main street in hackensack is blocked off with protestors barricaded.
law enforcement said there’s five minutes to move before protestors are arrested if they’re not standing behind the barricade.#media #press had been arrested pic.twitter.com/mGMBVBRo8u
— aldianews (@ALDIANews) December 12, 2020
“Despite efforts to deescalate the situations, protesters continued their resistance, moving barricades -- throwing bricks, spitting, spraying officers with pepper spray, and even biting two officers,” Cureton added in his statement.
On Sunday, Dec. 13 at 1:00 p.m., demonstrators were once again outside.
They were met with officers in full riot gear and although it was a peaceful protest, the tension on the streets could be felt as a result of the previous day’s flare ups.
Cops had blocked off the intersection, which is a main street in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Some of the ICE detainees have since been removed from the Bergen County facility and transferred to another.
The protesters continued to say that they are there in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and for the ICE detainees to be let go. Despite law enforcement being aggressive, the demonstrators said they will not make the situation about police brutality.
Over the last month, there have been ICE detainees hunger striking in an attempt to bring attention to alleged poor-living conditions with little to no social distancing and poor sanitary conditions within the county jail.
AL DÍA previously spoke with the family member of one of the hunger striking detainees that alleged the inhumane treatment. They remained anonymous along with their family member for safety reasons.
ICE has denied any allegations of mistreatment.