Friday, February 22, 2019

Lawsuit Claims that Immigration Agents used "excessive force" during Tennessee raid

Aljazeera reports on a lawsuit filed yesterday accusing U.S. immigration agencies of using excessive force, violence and racially profiling workers during a raid at a meatpacking plant last year. The National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the law firm of Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven named workers who were arrested with about 100 others at a meatpacking plant in Eastern Tennessee on April 5, 2018 by Immigration & Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents.

The complaint alleges that, heavily armed, the officers formed a perimeter around the Bean Station plant and blocked every exit, the lawsuit said. During the raid, one of the largest in the United States in the last decade, federal agents flooded the building and shouted at workers to freeze, according to the filings.   Helicopters could be heard hovering above the plant while more agents waited outside with "large machine guns pointed at exits."

The first paragraph of the complaint paints a frightening picture:

"In April 2018, officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), Homeland Security Operations (“HSI”), Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”), and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (“THP”) descended on the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant (“Plant”) in Bean Station, Tennessee, a small town in the far eastern corner of the state. Heavily armed, the officers formed a perimeter around the plant and blocked every exit. They used official vehicles to seal off the one public road to the Plant. Law enforcement helicopters flew above the Plant, securing and surveilling the premises. In the Plant’s parking lot, several vans and large bags of plastic “zip tie” handcuffs waited to be used. Moments later, dozens of armed officers in bullet-proof vests rushed into the Plant. They quickly fanned out, many with their firearms drawn, and screamed at the workers inside to stop moving. The workers, terrified and confused, feared the commotion was a terrorist attack, a mass shooting, or a fire." (footnotes omitted). 

The complaint alleges violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and the civil rights laws.



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