Sheriff Hodgson attends protest against him

Apr 6, 2021

Those driving by Faunce Corner on Saturday may have seen a special guest at a protest against Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and Immigration and Customs Enforcement: the sheriff himself.

The protest was organized by Bristol County for Correctional Justice, a local activist group focused on upholding the rights of those inside the county’s correctional facilities.

Protester Alex Houston said that the group would like to see more transparency in the Sheriff’s Office, which she said “has a history...of just doing some things that have really hurt the people inside.”

Activists said they were opposed to Hodgson due to high suicide rates in the county’s correctional facilities as well as his agreement with ICE allowing sheriff’s officers to act as federal immigration agents. 

Federal immigration detainees are held at the office’s Faunce Corner Road facility, although an order from a federal judge last year called for the release of all but five due to Covid safety requirements.

A report from the state Attorney General’s office found that last year the sheriff violated the civil rights of federal immigration detainees at the Faunce Corner Road facility, although the sheriff disputed the findings.

Another reason for their opposition, according to protester Ned Carson, is that Hodgson has ties to an anti-immigrant organization founded by white nationalist John Tanton.

Hodgson sits on the advisory board for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that has been categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“There have been a lot of folks honking and giving thumbs up and showing their support for our cause and for getting Sheriff Hodgson out of office,” noted Carson, who added that they had gotten some opposing reactions as well.

Sheriff Hodgson will be running for reelection in 2022.

“Our goal is to bring as much attention leading up to that point as possible,” said Houston. “So while there’s not a candidate right now up against Hodgson, we fully expect there to be one.”

“We do not believe he has the support of Bristol County,” she added.

Hodgson himself made an appearance at the protest, wishing activists a happy Easter and waving and smiling at passersby next to signs reading “Hodgson OUT.”

“I want to wish a happy Easter to everyone, including the anti-ICE, anti-Hodgson political protesters I saw in my hometown this morning,” he tweeted after the encounter. “I stopped by, wished them a happy Easter and spent a few minutes waving to cars while they jeered. Fun start to Easter weekend for sure!” 

The sheriff’s office did not comment further.

Protesters said that Hodgson was “welcome” at the event.

“He just came out here basically to troll us, and try to start a confrontation,” said Carson. “But I don’t think we took the bait on that.”

“He did say Happy Easter, and it seemed mildly insincere,” said Houston with a laugh.