Covid-19 in Immigration Detention
Over the past year, crowded immigration detention centers have been home to devastating Covid-19 outbreaks among detainees, outbreaks that were exacerbated by inadequate medical care, lack of personal protective equipment, and transfers across different facilities. Last year, six detainee deaths were preliminarily linked to Covid-19, according to ICE’s own assessments. News reports suggest that ICE has no clear plan for administering the vaccine to detainees. We filed requests with the Department of Homeland Security for records regarding detainee deaths and for any related analyses of agency officials’ compliance with health care and security protocols.
D.C. Police Tactics During Summer Racial Justice Protests
Last week, the ACLU released a report finding that in June 2020, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) used significant force in the arrests of 194 people protesting police brutality on Swann Street, a residential road in northwest Washington, D.C. Some demonstrators said police unlawfully used a crowd-control tactic known as “kettling,” in which law enforcement corral a group of people in order to make a mass arrest. Footage from the incident shows demonstrators fleeing pepper spray and seeking refuge in residential homes, raising concerns that police kettled non-violent protesters rather than allowing them to disperse. On Thursday, following the completion of an internal MPD report on the incidents, the office of D.C.’s attorney general announced that it would not be prosecuting any of the 194 demonstrators. We filed records requests with MPD for copies of the internal report.
Covid-19 Lawsuit Immunity
Conservative state lawmakers across the country have been pushing bills that shield businesses from Covid-19-related lawsuits brought by customers who contracted the coronavirus. Critics say that these bills also weaken worker protections by preventing lawsuits against employers who maintain unsafe working conditions that exacerbate the spread of Covid-19. We filed records requests to the Georgia and Texas departments of agriculture for officials’ communications regarding Covid-19 liability shields, particularly with representatives of the meatpacking industry.
State and Local Officials’ Involvement in Jan. 6 Rally
This week, we expanded our ongoing investigation into state and local officials from across the country who participated in former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. We sent records requests for any related communications and records of Alaska State Rep. David Eastman, Illinois State Rep. Chris Miller, and other officials in Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
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