Largest for-profit prison company in Florida threatens to sue Dream Defenders for anti-ICE protests
GEO Group is the largest for-profit prison company in Florida and the single largest contractor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). GEO Group has an estimate of over $400 million invested in local prisons. As the Trump administration continues to detain and separate families, the company has become a notorious target for many anti-ICE groups. Now, they are threatening to sue Dream Defenders, a human rights organization working to end state abuses and police brutality.
A prominent Florida activist group, Dream Defenders has been singled out and served a cease-and-desist letter by GEO after many statewide anti-ICE protests. This past July, Dream Defenders and other Florida immigration groups demanded that the Florida Democratic Party reject all donations from for-profit prison companies.
The company claims Dream Defenders is using “false information” in organizing against for-profit prisons.
Attorney Carolyn P. Short of Holland & Knight law firm, which is representing GEO, issued a letter stating, “It is clear that Dream Defenders published knowingly false statements regarding GEO in an attempt to incite others to engage in potentially violent and harmful behavior directed at GEO facilities.”
Short continues to say that Dream Defenders are defaming the reputation of the GEO Group by publishing known incorrect statements and their “proposed actions go well beyond the parameters of protected free speech (by) encouraging threatening and violent behavior toward GEO and its employees.”
However, Dream Defenders published an informative response to all points made by the GEO Group.
“You had the audacity to allege that the Dream Defenders, a group of young people of color who are advocating for our basic human rights, are exhibiting ‘threatening and violent behavior toward GEO,'” the group says in its response letter. “We are advocating the end to your harmful and violent carceral behavior, which countless news reports, lawsuits, and government investigations have already established.”
Dream Defenders’ letter continues, “GEO’s CEO has highlighted the business opportunities that come with the Trump administration’s immigration policies in calls with analysts… GEO not only maintains the physical walls separating inmates and detained immigrants from their families but has even profited off of the few moments of connection detainees have over the phone.”
The group makes the point that complicity in unjust systems must also be protested, adding, “just because GEO is not directly responsible for sentencing or deciding which families to incarcerate, detain or deport does not absolve the company of participating in a racist system of mass incarceration that has its roots in slavery and Jim Crow laws.”