An employee of a Rhode Island prison has been placed on administrative leave after a truck plowed through a crowd of demonstrators on Wednesday.
What We Know:
- At least two protesters were injured when a pickup truck ran into them outside Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, which has contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The protest was organized by Never Again Action, a Jewish activist group formed to protest ICE detention and support immigrant rights. Police were present at the protest of around 400 people but did not intervene when the truck arrived; Protesters also reported that other guards pepper-sprayed them during their protest.
- The truck entered the scene near the end of the protest as around 30 protesters linked arms and blocked the parking lot entrance of the facility. In the video, the truck can be seen driving up to the entrance blocked by demonstrators, stopping, and then continuing to move forward through the protesters.
- Never Again Action said they believe a worker of the facility was driving the truck based on the uniform of the man in the car, which can be seen better in the video below. Correctional Officer Captain Thomas Woodworth has been suspended as the facility investigates the incident, though he has not been officially identified as the driver.
- Rhode Island State Police and the attorney general’s office will conduct investigations of the encounter, along with an internal investigation conducted by the facility. “Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top to bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers’ response, and the Wyatt’s protocols regarding protest activities outside of the facility,” the facility wrote in a statement.
- Spokesperson for Never Again Action, Amy Anthony, said the protesters’ “terrifying” encounter is just a window into the violent behavior she assumes immigrants face every day inside the facility. “People are being harmed in ICE custody every day. This is exactly why we are doing what we’re doing.” The group has held over 30 demonstrations in the past two months around the US and this incident will not stop them, advised Anthony.
The protest was entirely peaceful as protesters marched from Jenks Park in Central Falls, Rhode Island to the detention center; This was the second protest Never Again has held outside Wyatt this year.