NewsRegion S Palm Beach CountyBoca Raton


9 arrested during protest at GEO Group in Boca Raton

Posted at 9:42 AM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 18:26:53-05

A protest was held in front of The GEO Group in Boca Raton Tuesday morning.

Police arrested nine demonstrators who used cement and tar to glue themselves to the entrances of the private prison company to protest the treatment of immigrants.

According to a Facebook post from the group Ft. Lauderdale Food Not Bombs, several activists from an assortment of backgrounds attempted to shut down entry to the company's headquarters.

The GEO Group has been the target of protests in the past. In August, demonstrators held signs and chanted, demanding the closure of immigration detention centers around the country.

One sign held Tuesday by protesters said "rich get richer, poor get prison."

Ft. Lauderdale Food Not Bombs said in its Facebook post that the demonstration was designed to call attention to what it called GEO's record of human rights abuses.

Demonstrators told the Sun Sentinel they were protesting what they say is the mistreatment of immigrants and detainees in facilities run by the GEO Group.

One of the protesters Carlos Valnera Naranjo told the newspaper the activists blocked the entrances of the Boca Raton building using mixtures of cement and tar to make it difficult to remove them. Naranjo was detained.

A spokesperson for The GEO Group released this statement to WPTV about Tuesday's protest:

"The dishonest narrative and lies that are being spread about the services our company provides is based on the same false rhetoric that has led to the endangerment of our employees, of government employees, and the public. The safety of our employees is our top priority, and any violence, vandalism, or destruction of property at any of our facilities and offices will not be tolerated. We have been a trusted service provider to the federal government for over 30 years, under Democratic and Republican Administrations, and the services we provide today are in no way different from the high quality, professional services we provided for eight years under President Obama’s administration. We do not manage any facilities housing unaccompanied migrant minors or any border patrol holding facilities. Like all Americans, we’re concerned about the unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border. While policymakers deliberate on the best way to address this challenge, we will continue to provide the highest standard of humane residential care at all of our facilities."

It's unclear what charges those arrested face.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.