Published: Sun, August 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Wyatt Detention Captain Resigns After Driving Truck Into Protesters

Wyatt Detention Captain Resigns After Driving Truck Into Protesters

Initial reports indicate that approximately 250 Jews and supporters had gathered at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., to protest current US immigration policy, with more than 30 people blocking the entrance to the center's parking lot.

Officials at a Rhode Island prison where a truck drove at a group protesting federal immigration policies say an employee has been placed on administrative leave. Footage captured by one attendee shows the line of protestors sitting peacefully outside of Wyatt's gates while being led in a call-and-response chant by a man with a megaphone.

J. Aaron Regunberg, a former Democratic state representative who has been participating in the demonstrations, reported in a statement on Facebook that local police at the scene declined to intervene on behalf of the protesters, arrest Woodworth, or even take witness statements from protesters. "Peaceful protest is a fundamental right of all Americans; it is unfortunate last night's situation unfolded as it did", he said in a statement.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested this summer in Never Again Action protests meant to disrupt activities at ICE detention facilities and other locations affiliated with ICE. The group was protesting Amazon's contracting with ICE.

"Once we have a full understanding of the relevant facts, we will determine how to proceed", Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha tells the paper in a statement.

Another tweet said the group had delivered a letter to the center's leadership "demanding transparency about the condition of those inside", and giving an ultimatum: "If they do not come out to meet with us by 8pm, then we will have no choice but to shut down their facility". Some chanted "the whole world is watching" and "quit your jobs".

Woodworth was placed on leave from his job on Thursday, and police and the state attorney general's office began investigating the incident.

The protest was organized by Never Again Action, a Jewish youth movement that compares current federal immigration policies, including immigrants being held at detention facilities, to the atrocities of the Holocaust.

"We'll be back", it said.

Organizers say roughly 400 people gathered for the protest and at least 30 formed a human barricade blocking the entrance to the detention center. Never Again Action claimed that the driver of the vehicle was an ICE officer.

Never Again Action said Jerry Belair, 64, of Warren, suffered a broken leg and internal bleeding and was being evaluated at a hospital for a possible back injury.

The governor said she is in communication with State Police Col. Jim Manni about the incident. By Friday, Woodworth had left his post, the facility announced in a terse statement.

While acknowledging its review of employees' conduct in the incident and its aftermath, the detention center did not confirm pepper spray was deployed.

Despite the injuries her group faced, Anthony said Never Again Action is not deterred. Furious over the loss of more than $130 million dollars that would result from the board's decision, bondholders for the private facility sued to keep the contract intact.

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