RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A march calling for the immediate release of ICE detainees from Virginia detention centers brought dozens to Carytown Friday night.
Around 80 people gathered outside of the Kroger with signs and bullhorns and walked down neighboring streets.
March organizer Brenda Pereira Vargas told 8News they want to disband Immigration Centers of America and put liquified assets into an immigrant bond, mutual aid fund. They are also calling on organizations that have a racial justice mission to cut ties immediately with the for-profit prison investors.
March organizers distributed a flyer that pictures Ken Newsome, CEO of Markel Food Group, and included a list of demands. Newsome was one of the original investors in ICA Farmville. According to a statement from his spokesperson, Newsome divested his shares of ICA Farmville in January 2020.
“On Friday, July 31, approximately 50 people marched to my house to protest my role in Immigration Centers of America, or ICA, and its Farmville Detention Center. They handed out flyers with my picture and claimed I was an owner and had authority over the company,” said Newsome in a statement to 8News.
“The fact is that I am not an owner and have never had any operating authority over the company. While I was a minority investor in the early days of ICA, a new ownership group took over in 2008, before the facility was built, and I ended all roles. I subsequently sold my remaining shares in January 2020 and am no longer affiliated with the organization.”
According to figures provided by ICE, nearly 93 percent of detainees at Farmville have tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia’s two U.S. senators sent separate letters to President Donald Trump requesting that he send a team from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the immigration detention center in Farmville.
“ICE has terrorized our community long enough,” Pereira Vargas told 8News. “To now see that during a pandemic there is 93% positive COVID cases in Farmville ICA Detention Center is a complete show of negligence to human life.”
The march lasted about three hours.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Monday, Aug. 3, with a statement from Ken Newsome