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Several people arrested in protest at private prison headquarters in Centerville

Posted at 9:33 AM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 22:30:29-04

CENTERVILLE, Utah — Eight people were arrested in Centerville Thursday after a protest over the detention of immigrants disrupted a business there.

A group that calls itself "ICE Free SLC" staged the protest at the Management & Training Corporation building.

The group said it organized the protest because MTC profits from the detention, deportation and separation of immigrant families.

"We thought we needed to shed light and make the community aware and hold them accountable," protester Taylor Goldstein said.

In a statement, the group said:

We’re demanding an end to the national political and economic infrastructure, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that criminalizes immigrants, people of color, the poor, and other marginalized communities; and call our community into action to resist the expansion of immigrant detention and deportation in our own region and across the country.

MTC operates three private, adult detention centers for ICE.

MTC released a statement saying children and minors are not housed at the facilities it operates for ICE.

What happened today with protesters coming to MTC was very unfortunate. We would have been happy to meet with these individuals to talk about the work we do for ICE so they had a full understanding.

Instead, the protestors came and refused to comply with police to leave private property. The group is advocating to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement which they have the right to do. But they don’t have the right to break the law.

MTC operates three detention centers for ICE. None have children or minors, only adults. We are not involved in any way in policies.

While our hearts go out to anyone separated from their family because of policy that had since been reversed, we have no authority or say in these matters. It would be more effective for these protestors to write their elected officials or take their concerns to ICE directly. We are only a contractor for ICE.

As a company, our job is to provide detainees at the three centers we operate, with a clean, safe environment where they have access to all the services they need including healthcare, legal resources, and contact with family and friends.

The average stay for detainees at one of our detention centers is 65 days. During that short time, we are committed to providing the best services possible. If these protesters were to visit any of our centers, we’re confident they would leave assured that the detainees are treated with great care, respect and dignity.

Police asked the demonstrators to leave, but instead of doing that, they asked the police to join them.

"Their demand was that law enforcement join them in their protest and handcuff ourselves," Centerville Police Lt. Zan Robinson said.  "Tha'ts obviously not going to happen but they did make that demand."

By noon, the protest was over, and eight people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.