UUFC hosted Detention Watch Network

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus provided its new Grace Fellowship Hall for an important day-long workshop on Nov. 19, 2016, to advance human rights. At issue is fair treatment for immigrants detained in for-profit facilities in the southeast.

Detention Watch Network particiants meet for a day-long workshop at UUFC on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2016.

The invitation-only workshop also coincides with and opportunity for all UUFC members and friends to participate in a vigil Saturday morning at a local detention center near Lumpkin, Ga.

The national Detention Watch Network worked with Georgia Detention Watch and Alterna, the immigrant-advocacy group based in LaGrange, Ga., to organize the one-day event. More than 50 invited organizers are attending, representing organizations in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Participants also came from Chicago, Austin, Tex., and Detention Watch headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“We are selling hope and our currency is love,” said Alterna organizer Anton Flores, who has spoken at UUFC.

Detention Watch communications manager Carly Pérez said the purpose of the meeting was to strengthen relationships among member organizations and to share information and strategies.

Organizers are focusing in particular on the Stewart Detention Center near Lumpkin, Ga., and similar facilities in Etowah County, Ala., and another one in Broward County, Fla. Many workshop participants are experienced advocates for detainees. They visit and accompany detainees, when possible, and monitor conditions at detention facilities.

On Friday, Nov. 20, participants visited detainees at the Stewart Detention Center.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Alterna, the advocacy group based in LaGrange, held its annual vigil at the Stewart facility, which is near Lumpkin, Ga.

In 2015, more than 1,000 people participated in the Lumpkin vigial, including many Unitarian Universalists. This year about the same number participated. Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus wore their “Standing on the Side of Love” shirts.