Prison Guard Drives Truck Into Crowd of Peaceful Anti-ICE ProtestersActivists who were sitting at the entry to the detention facility’s parking lot in Rhode Island are shaken but remain as committed as ever.
On Wednesday night, immigration activists gathered at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., to protest the private facility’s working relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The coalition of advocacy groups was organized by Never Again Action, the same Jewish activist group that led protests at detention centers across the country Sunday.
Protesters, who were sitting at the entry to the facility’s parking lot, knew they were risking arrest by blocking staff attempts to enter the prison, as a tweet from the organizers indicated at the start of the protest. They didn’t expect that anyone would try to run them over.
According to reporting from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the incident started about 9:45 p.m., when a black pickup truck driving at a speed of about 10 to 15 miles per hour swerved toward a group of about 30 protesters. The Washington Post reports that “the protesters shouted as the driver laid on the horn, and the truck briefly stopped. … And then, the driver hit the gas.”
“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action, told the Post.
The Post reports that several protesters were treated at a local hospital, but no one was seriously injured.
Anthony said in the wake of the incident that it is the detainees inside the Wyatt Detention Facility that she is most concerned about. She told the Post, “If this is the way this correctional officer is behaving in public when people are recording, it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening,”
According to protesters, the driver was a correctional officer and employee of Wyatt. Video of the incident backs up their statement, and the driver was wearing a badge and uniform.
“The truck came in and people ran,” Lex Rofeberg, a protester who was not in the car’s path told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, adding, “It was shocking, it was unexpected. …There’s some amount of risk when you go to an action like this. You don’t expect it to unfold like this.”
Anthony also told the Post that no other law enforcement officials intervened or attempted to stop the driver, who then walked into the prison. Other guards used pepper spray on protesters, a group that she says included children and one person in a wheelchair.
Oh my god. An ICE Detention Center guard just drove their truck straight through a line of us sitting peacefully to block the parking lot. There don’t appear to be major injuries, still assessing the situation, police are moving in *on us* now ?
LIVE: https://t.co/ArMwLw2e87 pic.twitter.com/qUJXIP4xwa
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) August 15, 2019
Other protesters and eyewitnesses tweeted about their fear:
This is my video. For a second I thought I was filming the next Heather Heyer moment. It was absolutely shocking and horrifying and I’m a bit shaken up. Fortunately it appears no one was seriously hurt #NeverAgainIsNow #NeverAgainIsNow #JewsAgainstICE https://t.co/FhL2K1haDP
— Sam Eilertsen ? (@SamEilertsen) August 15, 2019
LATEST UPDATE: Police pepper sprayed the demonstrators after ICE truck drives into Jewish protesters at Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island. Multiple injuries reported, few people in the hospital. (NEW VIDEO) Check @NeverAgainActn for more updates.
— Max Howroute▫️ (@howroute) August 15, 2019
Never Again Action organizers emphasized that despite the incident, they remain more committed than ever to fighting ICE, and the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants, a goal they connect to a history of Jewish activism against injustice.
The Rhode Island attorney general’s office said in a statement that they are “investigating what transpired last night at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls” and reiterated its support for peaceful protest.Wait, before you go…
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