Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees calls out ICE and Glades County Sheriff’s Office for “waiting for someone to die” amongst COVID-19 crisis

Advocates with Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees are calling out ICE and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office for “waiting for someone to die” at the jail, as well as for reported abuse and neglect. On Tuesday, June 9th, Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees, Florida Immigrant Coalition, other community partners, and family members of people detained at Glades County Jail held a press conference outside the ICE Field Office in Plantation, Florida.

Just hours after the press conference, Roberto Martinez, who is currently detained at Glades County Jail and spoke publicly about poor conditions, was pepper-sprayed by guards. Mr. Martinez has asthma and had to be rushed to medical to use an oxygen mask for 90 minutes before recovering. His fiancé reported that her video visitation access was cut that night as well.

It was also reported that the jail refused to provide access to drinking water all night Tuesday, June 9th, as well as throughout the morning of Wednesday, June 10th.

In addition, Glades County Jail continues to spray a chemical disinfectant several times a day that causes eye irritation, headaches, and shortness of breath. “There is no ventilation in here for us and they are spraying chemical everyday that is making us sick. Every night we are affected by the stuff they are spraying” stated one person detained at Glades.

We are also aware of at least three instances where people with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms have had to be hospitalized. Just this morning around 8am, FOMDD Executive Director Wendy King received a frantic phone call from a man detained at Glades: “We have a major problem in here. They had to rush someone who has coronavirus to the hospital at 1:30 this morning!” The caller reported the COVID-19 positive man is elderly and is in the same housing unit as him.

Glades County Jail has so far failed to separate people who have tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus from those who have not tested positive. Due to limited testing, this practice of “cohorting” sick and healthy people together, and a lack of social distancing, cases of COVID-19 at Glades have exploded at Glades County Jail. More than 61 detained people and 11 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Glades is now on the list of top 10 facilities with the most COVID-19 cases.

“Once revealed that [my brother] was exposed to covid positive persons, and he had a fever, he requested testing on three occasions and to date has not been treated or tested”, stated a concerned family member whose sibling, Ashish Thomas, is detained at Glades. She also noted that although he has a traumatic brain injury that cause him to have seizures, he is kept in solitary confinement at times completely unmonitored. “He could die and no one would know.”

It was reported to us today that more than 80% of people detained at Glades County Jail are now on hunger strike. People on hunger strike are refusing to eat until they speak to ICE officials about their plan to deal with COVID-19. Many detained people hold ICE responsible for them contracting COVID-19, as the spread of the disease could have easily been prevented if ICE released people to the safety of their families.

We stand in solidarity with people detained at Glades County Jail in demanding that ICE officials speak to them about their plan for COVID-19, in addition to testing every person, providing treatment, and releasing people to their families to protect their health.

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