Dozens of demonstrators blockaded the Nashville headquarters of CoreCivic for more than eight hours Monday, starting just after dawn.
They set up tents, barricades and a massive tripod structure that rose two stories in the air outside the building in the Burton Hills office park south of Green Hills.
Twenty people were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, in a protest intended to shine a light on the company’s ties to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. CoreCivic runs eight ICE detention centers.
“From our perspective, this corporation should be abolished,” said Jeannie Alexander, an organizer. “The only way it exists and operates in Tennessee is through the legislative power, which allows the caging of humans to be contracted out for profit. And, so, as far as we’re concerned, we’ve abolished this corporation today.”
Alexander also listed CoreCivic’s contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the state of Tennessee as cause for complaint. CoreCivic says activists are distorting the company’s role in immigrant detention with “wrong and politically motivated” information.
The protest unfolded throughout the day, and about 70 police officers responded to the scene. They cordoned off the building and gradually arrested those who refused to leave voluntarily, including several who’d chained themselves together and a woman who’d hoisted herself atop the tripod.
In a statement, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson lamented the amount of effort it took to end the protest.
“Today’s actions, by a handful of persons, can only be interpreted as a deliberate and calculated measure to impact public safety and to unreasonably expend public resources. These actions, by a few, go far beyond any need to or right to express a point of view. At any future sentencing for these illegal acts, there should be corresponding and commensurate consequences.”