On April 20, dozens of Kenyon students — and a few faculty, staff and alumni — rallied in front of the Kenyon Inn to tell the Board of Trustees that our campus supports divestment. This happened right after members of Kenyon Democrats and Divest Kenyon met with Chair of the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees Joe Lipscomb ’87 to talk about the College’s investments. Students demanded that the College remove its holdings in the top-200 fossil fuel companies (ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves) and pledge not to invest in the two largest private prison corporations (GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America). Kenyon will not release its exact investments, but trustees have confirmed that seven to eight percent of our endowment is invested in the energy industry, which encompasses the fossil fuel industry.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A top private prison company is struggling to convince Texas lawmakers to license one of its facilities to hold immigrant parents and their children together — a practice that President Donald Trump’s administration recently committed to upholding.
The Karnes Residential Center, 60 miles south of San Antonio, opened as a family detention center in 2014 and used to hold detainees for months, until a federal judge ruled that children held longer than 20 days must be housed in “non-secure” facilities with child care licenses.
After the Texas Department of Family Protective Services granted Karnes a license, advocates sued, saying that holding children in detention causes psychological and physical harm. A state judge ruled last year that family detention centers did not qualify for licenses.
Few industries have stood to gain as much under Mr. Trump as private prison operators, and they gave generously to his inauguration. Two of the largest such companies, the Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, and the GEO Group, each contributed $250,000.
Since then, the outlook for both companies has greatly improved. In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era order that would have phased out the use of such prisons by the Justice Department. And Mr. Trump directed his administration to prioritize the detention and deportation of unauthorized immigrants, proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for a vast new network of detention facilities like the ones the companies already operate for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Neither company responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Students have launched a new effort urging Harvard to divest—this time taking aim at the University’s holdings in private prison stocks.
The new undergraduate-led initiative, called the Harvard College Project for Justice, disseminated a petition over some House lists last week calling for Harvard to divest from “direct and indirect investments in private prison stock, as well as publicly commit to a moratorium on such investments in the future.”
“These corporations profit off of immigrant detention as well as mass incarceration, and they lobby to perpetuate the expansion of these deeply unjust institutions,” the petition reads. “For those reasons, we petition Harvard to publicly denounce private prison investments.”
Tacoma, WA – A new group of immigrants have joined a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center, run by the private corporation GEO Group (GEO). In addition to the hunger strike, immigrants detained at NWDC are boycotting the company store (commissary) to protest unfair prices and lack of nutritional food.
On Tuesday, April 18, the women’s section of the Northwest Detention Center began a hunger strike to protest GEO and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to improve the conditions to meet basic living standards. This follows a protest that began on April 10, 2017 when up to 750 people spent a week on hunger strike. While GEO promised to change the food menu to meet basic nutritional needs and lower commissary prices, it has failed to do so.
Detention conditions have worsened under the Trump administration, triggering this latest strike. Trump has staffed his deportation force with openly anti-immigrant officials with links to white supremacist organizations, leaving people detained with little choice but to put their bodies on the line to fight for their basic dignity. Attorney General Jeff Session’s newly released memorandum calling for increased prosecutions of immigrants and their supporters, combined with a roll-out where he referred to immigrants as “filth,” highlights the continued need for local resistance to the federal deportation and detention dragnet.
Tacoma, WA – Today at noon marked 48 hours since immigrants incarcerated at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) began refusing meals, launching a hunger strike to protest their treatment inside the immigration prison. Supporters who rallied outside the facility received constant updates from people detained as more pods (housing units inside the facility) joined the call to not eat, not to use the phones, and not to buy from the commissary. By Wednesday morning over 750 people had begun refusing meals, with reports of strikers in 9 different pods throughout the facility. In at least four pods, the people detained also called for a work stoppage, throwing the immigration prison’s functions into chaos.
Detention conditions, already terrible under Obama, have worsened under Trump, triggering this latest strike. Under the Obama administration, federal officials at least pretended to be concerned about the immigration they incarcerated, but Trump has staffed his immigration force with openly anti-immigrant officials with links to white supremacist organizations, leaving people detained with little choice but to put their bodies on the line to fight for their basic dignity. Attorney General Jeff Session’s newly released memorandum calling for increased prosecutions of immigrants and their supporters, combined with a roll-out where he referred to immigrants as “filth,” only highlights the continued need for local fights responding to the federal deportation and detention dragnet.
An activist calls for divestment at a Portland City Council meeting last week. The council’s decision to divest from all corporations was a victory for activists organized along intersectional lines. (Photo: Doug Yarrow)
In a sweeping move that follows a wave of divestment activism in Portland, Oregon, and across the country, the Portland City Council voted last week to pull all of the city’s investments in corporate bonds and securities.
The decision was a major victory for a broad coalition of activists who have pushed for the city to end its investments in corporations that have questionable records on the environment and human rights, including ties to the Dakota Access pipeline, the private prison industry and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
“As their decision stands now, it’s permanent.… We can rest assured in Portland that our money won’t be funding prisons, pipelines and the occupation of Palestine,” said Amanda Aguilar Shank, an organizer with the racial justice group Enlace, in an interview with Truthout.