Dozens of people detained by federal immigration officials are refusing meals in a Boston jail.
Rhode Island-based community groups Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance and the Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG) Collective say they've been in contact with about 70 detainees at the Suffolk County House of Correction who are participating in a "hunger strike" that began Friday.
The organizations say the detainees are protesting abuse by jail officials and "inhumane conditions" such as bad food and broken bathroom fixtures. They also challenge the jail's authority to detain people on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“As organizations in contact with people currently being detained, we demand that Sheriff Steven Tompkins address the demands of all those currently detained in Suffolk County," said Arely Diaz, a spokesperson for FANG Collective, in a statement. "We also demand an explanation for how the Suffolk County House of Correction has any authority to detain anyone. Regardless of any explanation, we demand they release everyone back to their families.”
A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department said "there is no official hunger strike in effect."
"Detainees are refusing institutional meals, but have continued to eat their canteen food and drink liquids," the statement said. "We are monitoring the situation with the proper medical supervision and will respond appropriately."
The organizations say the detainees sent jail officials a list of their grievances Feb. 10.
A spokesperson for ICE didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Sunday.
With reporting from The Associated Press and WBUR's Paul Connearney
This article was originally published on February 17, 2019.