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Ten arrested outside Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma police say

The Northwest Detention Center, a privately owned and operated immigration detention center was built on the Tacoma Tideflats to replace a similar facility in Seattle. (News Tribune / Dean J. Koepfler)
The Northwest Detention Center, a privately owned and operated immigration detention center was built on the Tacoma Tideflats to replace a similar facility in Seattle. (News Tribune / Dean J. Koepfler)

Ten people were arrested Tuesday evening outside the Northwest Detention Center on Tacoma’s Tideflats, according to Tacoma police.

About 160 people had gathered in front of the detention center, which holds undocumented migrants detained by the federal government during deportation proceedings, Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said Tuesday night.

About 40 of the people protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy outside the detention center decided to block the roadway leading to the facility, Cool said.

A Tacoma officer responded in his patrol car about 9:10 p.m. to ask the protesters to clear the roadway when one person with a shopping cart jumped in front of his car and refused to move, Cool said. Others in the group began to surround the officer’s car, so he called for immediate backup.

When other officers began to arrive, they attempted to arrest the man with the shopping cart, Cool said. Another man jumped onto the back of one of the other officers, but was quickly detained.

A number of the protesters shot cell-phone video and photos of the fracas that ensued.

Videos shown to a News Tribune reporter depicted a young man in a dark hoodie push a shopping cart in front of the unmarked police SUV. At one point, another man moved the cart out of the way and appeared to try to coax the young man, who witnesses said is 17, away from the front of the SUV.

Not long after, marked police cars with lights flashing flooded into the area, the videos showed.

“They just kept coming and coming and coming,” said one man who witnessed the event but did not want to give his name.

Other videos showed police dragging people away. One showed a woman who witnesses said is in her 60s being thrown to the ground and handcuffed by two officers. She later was filmed in the back of a patrol car.

“I’m not afraid,” she said into the camera, punctuating her comment with an expletive aimed at police.

Witnesses said officers seemed to grab people at random, throwing many to the ground before arresting them.

Carol Kindt is a retired family law attorney and member of the environmental activist group 350 Tacoma. She was at the detention center during the fracas and said police “escalated quickly” after arriving on the scene.

“I think they said once to get off the street,” Kindt told the News Tribune. “It was noisy and confrontational.”

Of the 10 people arrested, the man who jumped onto the officer’s back was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, the man with the shopping cart and another were arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, and seven more were arrested for failing to disperse, Cool said.

Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest welcome and give immigrants support from an RV parked outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

By Michael Simpson

About 25 officers responded to the scene in total, she added.

The Northwest Detention Center, which is run by the for-profit Geo Group, is a frequent site of protests against the U.S. government’s policies toward undocumented migrants.

Activists started camping in front of the facility Saturday in protest of President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents when the parents are detained for immigration violations.

Protesters had set out to make noise at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. each day to be able to make their presence known to the detained immigrants held at the facility. Officers were dispatched to the detention center just after that demonstration would have been underway.


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