New Bedford Protesters Take Aim at Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson
Street protests in New Bedford continue and the summer has just begun.
Thursday afternoon demonstrators with Bristol County Correctional Justice gathered in front of the downtown Hastings Keith Federal Building to demand the resignation of Republican Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, an anti-illegal immigration hardliner with close ties to President Donald Trump.
Protesters also staged a car caravan in the North End and paraded past the Bristol County House of Corrections and the downtown Ash Street Jail, two facilities run by Hodgson. Later the group marched to the corner of County and Union streets to rally in solidarity with local Black Lives Matter organizers and supporters.
Organizers billed it as a day devoted to saying "No to White Supremecy in Bristol County."
In a media release, Bristol County Correctional Justice claimed that Hodgson is a "white supremacist" and noted that he serves on a national advisory board for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigration group classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist organization with ties to white supremacists and eugenicists.
The social justice activists also hammered their recent discovery that Hodgson once posed for an official photo while wearing a necktie with colors and imagery evocative of the Confederate Flag. Hodgson has denied that he is a white supremacist and dismissed complaints about his necktie, even getting into a Twitter squabble with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey about the neckwear.
A spokesman for Hodgson today dismissed as "nonsense" any allegations that the sheriff has racist or white supremacist tendencies. "These are just political activists trying to attack the sheriff," said Jonathan Darling, Public Information Officer for the Bristol County Sheriff's Office.
Earlier this week Hodgson traveled to Washington, D.C. to appear next to Trump as the president signed a law enforcement executive order in the Rose Garden. The Bristol County Sheriff is honorary chairman of Trump's re-election campaign in Massachusetts.
In addition to overseeing the House of Correction and Ash Street Jail, Hodgson runs an immigrant detention center in North Dartmouth under a contract with ICE. That facility is now the subject of investigations by the Massachusetts Attorney General, the Massachusetts Senate, and the Department of Homeland Security. The investigations were launched in May after a disturbance left the facility badly damaged and sent several detainees to the hospital. Hodgson claims that guards had to put down a violent uprising after detainees refused to get tested for COVID-19, but conflicting versions of events emerged, with one lawyer claiming Hodgson provoked the disturbance.
Hodgson on Twitter today seemed unfazed.
"Good morning, Bristol County," the sheriff wrote. "Enjoy the day and hope everyone has a great weekend."