In an action called “Expose the Slaveholders,” activist group the Dream Defenders is in Boca Raton today to protest GEO Group, a Boca-based private prison corporation, which is having its annual shareholders meeting this week.
For the past few years, protesters have demonstrated in Boca for GEO Group's shareholders meeting, but this effort comes at a time when the company is making record profits among heavy criticism for its treatment of prisoners, which include a large number of immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings. That has led the theme of this year's protest, which has had a strong social-media contingent, including videos and tweets, with critical factoids about the world's second-largest private prison corporation, under the "#slaveholders" hashtag.
The protest included a theatrical version of "GEO-poly," a theatrical version of Monopoly that the protesters based on the realities of the private prison business. The "players" represented major GEO Group shareholders, including big banks, such as Wells Fargo, and George Zoley,GEO's CEO. After rolling the dice, prisoners were put accumulated by the shareholders and put in chains.
"The game was based on all the things that GEO and other private prisons do, but it was just being done in a theatrical version for people to see how this really happens," says Arely Lozano-Baugh, a member of Dream Defenders and a student at FAU. " It was hard because some of my friends were in chains and that's hard to see. But at the end of the day, people with black or brown bodies could be in that situation, especially when there's so much money to be made off of them."
At the action itself, protesters in red shirts marched amid rainy weather toward the Boca Raton Country Club, where the shareholders meeting is scheduled to take place.
As protesters chanted, Boca Police watched on the sidelines.
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Meanwhile, Alana Greer, an attorney with the Community Justice Project in Miami, says police were towing cars of protesters. However, Boca Police responded on Twitter saying that cars parked on private property were towed by businesses and not them.
We'll update with more information as it happens.