NEW BEDFORD - A rally protesting several proposed programs by Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson took place outside the Ash Street Jail downtown Thursday evening.

Organized by the Coalition of Social Justice, members of several labor unions and other community groups took part, drawing a crowd of over 50 people.

Speakers during the event focused on Hodgson's offer to President-Elect Donald Trump to help build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border with labor by Bristol County inmates.

"Who the hell is Tough Talking Tommy to volunteer our family members, mostly serving time for minor offenses, to work as slaves?" asked Jim Pimental, representing Bricklayer's & Allied Craftsmen Local 3. "They're not some herd of cattle to be driven down to Texas to suit his political ends."

Pimental added that if a wall does have to be built, it should be done by skilled laborers.

Others noted Hodgson's focus on tougher immigration enforcement, and suggested he work toward immigration reform.

"Instead of building walls, Donald Trump and Sheriff Hodgson should consider building bridges to the communities of people who have been forced to immigrate here because of the adverse of U.S. foreign and economic policies on their native countries," said Bruce Rose of the New Bedford chapter of the NAACP.

Protesters also spoke out against the proposed $5-per-day fee that the sheriff plans to reinstate, after it was struck down by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2010.

Hodgson's office said the Trump Administration has not yet responded to the offer of assisting with the wall, and has not had any communication with Governor Charlie Baker either.

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