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ICE says jailed migrants pepper-sprayed

HOUSTON -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday that officers in one of its Louisiana jails pepper-sprayed migrants to end their protest over prolonged detention.

Spokesman Bryan Cox said "a brief, calculated use of pepper spray was employed" against about 50 protesters during a Tuesday protest at the Winn Correctional Center in rural Winnfield. Cox said the medical staff evaluated anyone who came into contact with the pepper spray, and no injuries were reported.

Family members of people detained at Winn said some migrants had refused to go back to their cells and were sleeping outside. Others had written the word "Libertad" -- Spanish for 'liberty'-- on bedsheets and towels. Lawyers say asylum seekers have staged protests at other ICE jails in Louisiana, where the migrant detainee population has surged in recent months and hit 8,000 earlier this year. Asylum seekers from Cuba and other countries say they're being detained for months without court dates or chances to request their release.

One 43-year-old man from Cuba, Roylan Hernandez Diaz, died of apparent suicide in October at another Louisiana jail, the Richwood Correctional Center. Hernandez had applied for asylum at a border bridge in El Paso, Texas, was deemed "inadmissible" by border agents and was placed in detention for five months.

Winn and Richwood are operated by the same Louisiana-based company, LaSalle Corrections.

Funds to yank statue in parish's budget

SHREVEPORT -- A Louisiana parish commission during a special budget meeting Tuesday approved funding to remove a Confederate monument.

The Caddo Parish Commission on Tuesday officially adopted its $82,776,407 operating and capital improvement budget for fiscal 2020, news outlets reported. The commission allocated $500,000 to remove the 30-foot-tall marble-and-granite Confederate monument in downtown Shreveport that was erected in 1905 on the north side of the Caddo Courthouse lawn.

Although the commission has the funding to remove the statue, there's still a legal battle brewing between the parish and the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The organization filed a temporary restraining order against the parish and the commission, halting the removal of the statue, and during Tuesday's meeting it continued speaking out in opposition of the statue's removal.

A judge ruled Friday that neither the parish nor the commission could move the statue, for now.

Guards punished over teen's suicide try

NEW YORK -- Four guards at New York City's Rikers Island jail have been suspended without pay after accusations that they stood by and failed to stop a teenage inmate from trying to hang himself on Thanksgiving.

Nicholas Feliciano, 18, remained unconscious in the intensive care unit of a hospital prison ward Wednesday, a week after he nearly died in his Rikers Island jail cell, according to the Legal Aid Society, the public defender organization that represents him in court.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the allegations that officers failed to immediately intervene in Feliciano's suicide attempt are "deeply troubling." Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement that the allegations were "extremely troubling and we are taking them seriously."

The Legal Aid Society is calling on authorities to drop the parole violation that put Feliciano behind bars on Nov. 19, arguing that having him under constant supervision, with a correctional officer by his hospital bedside, has "exacerbated his family's grief and anxiety."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the guard failed to immediately act as Feliciano tried to hang himself in a cell in view of a guard desk around midnight on Nov. 28. The newspaper cited four people who it said had knowledge of the matter but weren't authorized to speak publicly. One of them told the Times that seven minutes elapsed before the guards intervened.

City leaders spurn guns-sanctuary bid

ROANOKE, Va. -- Officials of a Virginia city have rebuffed pleas by gun advocates asking it to declare the city a so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary.

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea announced at a packed City Council meeting Monday that he sees no benefit in validating what the U.S. Constitution already guarantees. The declaration to a room mostly filled with people wearing stickers saying that "guns save lives" was met with shouted comments, the most audible of which was, "We will not comply."

Gun advocates across Virginia have pushed localities to declare themselves gun-rights sanctuaries after November's elections put Democrats in control of the Statehouse, news outlets reported. More than two dozen counties have approved such resolutions, including Roanoke County.

A crowd packed the Tazewell County board of supervisors meeting Tuesday evening as two Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions were unanimously approved. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 13.

A Section on 12/05/2019

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