Here’s Why Juanes and John Legend Performed at an Immigration Detention Center

John Legend and Colombian rocker Juanes recently teamed up to perform at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.

A prison is a prison regardless of what's inside. #Crimmigration #FREEAMERICA

A photo posted by #FREEAMERICA (@letsfreeamerica) on

 

And they didn’t just pick a random spot to perform.

The Eloy Detention Center, which holds an estimated 1,500 immigrants, made headlines last year after allegations of mistreatment and inadequate living conditions. Here’s what it looks like on the inside.

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Credit: John Moore / Getty

Fourteen people have died at the detention center since 2003. Five of them were suicides.

eloy-detention-103173947

The event was organized by #FreeAmerica, a campaign created by John Legend to bring awareness to mass incarceration in the US.

Learning about "crimmigration" today in Arizona. #FREEAMERICA

A video posted by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

Legend and Juanes said they wanted people to see the connection between mass incarceration and mass deportation. A tweet from #FreeAmerica stated: “A prison is a prison regardless of what’s inside.” Legend told the Associated Press: “The reason why we’re here, one, is because we want to bear witness to what’s happening so we could tell the world about it.”

They each played two songs before coming together to perform Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

Before their performance, Legend and Juanes met with detainees. Juanes said he was “heartbroken” by what he saw.

Juanes told the Associated Press: “It’s very hard to understand that someone is deprived of their freedom unjustly, and that’s why we’re here with our music, with our culture, which is the strongest tool to bring attention and give a voice to those who don’t have one.”

Watch a short clip of their performance:

 

John Legend’s #FreeAmerica campaignMusicians John Legend and Juanes just performed outside Eloy Immigration Detention Center–where about 1500 immigrants are detained–to bring light to our country’s misguided policies and transform America’s criminal justice system. #FreeAmerica

Posted by America with Jorge Ramos on Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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