HOBART | The Concerned Citizens of Hobart will meet with U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, on Monday regarding the possibility of an immigration detention center property once owned by St. Sava Church.
GEO Group, a Florida-based company that builds and operates correctional and detention facilities around the world, purchased the 40 acres of land east of Interstate 65 near Robinson Lake in November.
Concerned Citizens made the announcement during a public meeting Sunday at First Unitarian Church. The group also provided an update on a recent meeting with Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor.
The Rev. Charles Strietelmeier, of Augustana Lutheran Church, said the official position taken by the mayor and city representatives is that they will not take a position on the issue until a formal proposal has been brought by GEO.
“We voiced concern that this is a bad development for the city,” Strietelmeier said.
Strietelmeier said Hobart residents protesting an immigration detention facility will have to keep their eyes open “possibly for quite a number of months or longer.”
“My suspicion is there’s a hope this whole ruckus will die down and the minute we take our eyes off it — bang – it’s there,” he said. “We will have to pace ourselves for the long haul.”
Strietelmeier said anytime there is organized opposition to powerful entities, activists should “absolutely expect” to be pressured to break up their coalition.
“This pressure will come in a variety of ways,” he said.
Strietelmeier said there will be attempts to find wedge issues that protestors can be divided on.
“Be aware of the fact that every effort will be made to destroy this coalition,” he said. “We cannot let that happen. We keep our eye on the prize. It’s about no prison.”
Concerned Citizens announced protest signs are available for residents from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at Augustana Lutheran Church.
Group member Darlene Vassil said the goal is to have 3,000 petitions protesting the detention center signed within the next few weeks.
For more information, visit www.nohobartprison.com.