YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – Five people were arrested on Monday during a vigil outside of the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.
The group includes Dustin White, who was born in Warren and grew up in Sebring. John Beaty, Austin Miller, James Talbert and J.R. Rozko were also arrested. They were all released later Monday evening.
Beaty was the first man to be charged and released from the Mahoning County Justice Center.
“Being arrested is an act of solidarity with them,” the retired pastor said.
They were there for over three hours, trying to provide ministry to around 70 people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The detainees were arrested during a June raid of Fresh Mark in Salem, among other locations.
The five men — faith leaders from Canton, Akron and Norton — went onto the prison property around 1 p.m. and kneeled down, asking to be let inside to provide communion.
They were not allowed inside and were eventually escorted off of the property by police.
The group said communion is just one of the religious rights detainees are being denied.
“Our beef is simply that people have been denied of that, in regards to their ethnicity and status as U.S. citizens,” said James Talbert, of Citizens Akron.
“God looks at all of us as equal,” Beaty said. “He loves every one of us equally and if we want the kingdom of God to come on this earth, we have to try and treat people equally.”
Beaty believes ICE detainees are being treated differently than inmates who are allowed family visits.
“You had to talk to the glass, no human touch, and I had to talk through an intercom system where everybody could listen in on you and there was no way for a private confession,” Beaty said.
CoreCivic, which owns the prison, said their assumption that detainees aren’t provided religious support is false.
“Northeast Ohio Correctional Center has a full-time, on-site chaplain who all detainees have access to five days a week. The facility also offers religious services weekly to detainees. Additionally, we make accommodation for all religious dietary needs. All of these accommodations adhere to Performance-Based National Detention Standards,” said Rodney King, manager of Public Affairs at CoreCivic.
The ministers who were protesting on Monday want religious meetings, including some face-to-face meetings with detainees.
They said CoreCivic requires clergy to become a certified volunteer in order to even get inside. Group members said they’ve tried that and other ways to contact the detainees.
“We’ve tried through writing, through calling, through all the necessary avenues. None of that has worked. We’ve been denied over and over,” said Jamie White, Dustin’s wife.
“This feels like an option when we’ve run out of other options,” said Chrissy Stormbreaker-Martinez, with InterReligious Task Force on Central America.
All five men are being charged with criminal trespassing. They’re scheduled to be in court on Tuesday morning.