After a three day trial, activist Sherrie Andre was found guilty of trespassing and disturbing the peace, charges resulting from a peaceful anti-ICE protest that Sherrie was arrested at in August 2018. Sherrie was sentenced to 30 days in jail—the maximum possible sentence—to be served at the Bristol County House of Corrections.
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“We are surprised by the guilty verdict, and shocked and enraged that the Judge decided to impose the maximum sentence on Sherrie, despite dozens of letters of support summited on Sherrie’s behalf by community leaders,” according to a statement issued by the FANG Collective. “This harsh sentence is reflective of the violence that the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department inflicts on people every single day.”
In a trial that began last Wednesday at the New Bedford District Court, Judge Jeffrey K. Clifford heard testimony from witnesses that included employees at the Bristol County House of Correction and other participants in the direct action. After hearing the verdict, one supporter was arrested and violently removed from the courtroom.
Sherrie Andre, a co-founder of the FANG Collective, took part in the action to protest Bristol County’s federal contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The protest—carried out in solidarity with a hunger strike by people detained by ICE inside the Bristol County House of Corrections—was intended to raise awareness about the conditions inside the facility.
Bristol County has both a 287(g) contract and Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) with ICE. The 287(g) agreement allows local law enforcement to act as immigration officials and detain people on immigration charges. IGSAs are contracts in which local agencies provide space in their jails for the detention of undocumented people.
The Bristol County House of Corrections, overseen by Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, has the highest rate of suicide of any prison in Massachusetts. The facility has received widespread national attention over its medical neglect, abusive guards, inadequate food, and lack of mental health care. Sheriff Hodgson is facing lawsuits and investigations over the mistreatment of people imprisoned inside his facility.
Last year, two other activists involved in the protest served ten days in jail. A third activist arrested at the protest was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.
“We will continue to support Sherrie in the coming weeks as well as all those impacted by the Sheriff’s violent policies. We will keep fighting to support our community and hold the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department accountable for their violence