Abuse accusations at juvenile center draw protest

Protestors brought signs to show their displeasure with the SVJC and the Trump administration.
Protestors brought signs to show their displeasure with the SVJC and the Trump administration.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 23, 2018 at 4:47 PM EDT
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Dozens of people gathered in front of the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center on Saturday morning to protest amid

by young immigrants detained at the facility.

The group gathered under no particular organization's name — merely referring to themselves as "concerned citizens."

"I understand these are unrpoven allegations, but they're troubling nonetheless," Virginia Peters-Schultz said.

The allegations in question were made in a class action complaint by immigrant children as young as 14 accusing the facility of physical abuse and of being left nude and shivering in concrete cells.

In a response to WHSV, the Kelsey Wong, the program director for the SVJC, said the center belives the allegations are "without merit" and "looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will allow a jury to reach the same conclusion."

The protestors have hope for change.

"We do not want to house people, who are merely looking for a better life, as criminals," Bill Walker, the rally's organizer, said. "We will continue to work on this until we see action."

Members of the crowd were pleased by how many people protested.

"I was very encouraged to see so many people from this area, stretching from Winchester to Lexington, come here and express their concern," Walker said.

People spoke out, criticizing the juvenile center if the allegations prove to be true, but also took a stance on the national conversation around President Donald Trump's administration's treatment of immigrants.

"These detention centers are starting to feel, to me, as we build them and they're talking about tens of thousands of people as we separate children from parents and segregate, they're starting to feel to me like the internment camps during World War II," Peters-Schultz said.