The ICE Detention Center Incident Where a Corrections Officer Drove into Peaceful Protestors - Explained for Out-of-Staters

The Horrific Incident at the Wyatt Detention Center, Explained for People Who Are Not Local to the Area

Truck about to drive into sitting peaceful protestors
An ICE Detention Center Worker Drives His Truck into Peaceful Protestors

I was listening to "The Daily Beans," a daily news podcast, spun off from the weekly podcast about Russian interference in America, "Mueller She Wrote," hosted by and starring three women comedians, AG, Jaleesa Johnson and Jordan Coburn. They were discussing the incident at the Wyatt Detention Center protest in which someone drove their pickup truck into sitting, peaceful protestors, and that someone worked at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island. They were confused on the details of the incident, and other national reporting on the incident had some of the details a bit off. So, I decided to try to explain the story, for those outside of state who are seeking clarification.

I'm going to cite a lot of stuff from a really extraordinary independent journalism website in Rhode Island called Uprise RI, run by the amazing Steve Ahlquist, who—as usual—has been way on top of coverage of this story.

First, the Wyatt is a public/private institution in Central Falls, Rhode Island. The Wyatt holds ICE detainees—so, not this was not a CPB issue, but it was an immigration issue. As of March 2019, the Wyatt had begun holding ICE detainees, after a period of time in which they weren't.

The protestors from earlier this month were part of "Never Again Is Now," the national movement of Jews & other allies protesting against the treatment of immigrants & migrants. Never Again Is Now RI was doing this 2nd protest at the Wyatt. The first was in early July.

At this August protest, when the protestors were not permitted to speak to anyone at the Wyatt, a group sat blocking the parking lot, as part of a civil disobedience action. They were waiting to get arrested. Instead, one Wyatt CO—a captain at the Wyatt, named Thomas Woodworth (who is a Connecticut resident) drove his pick up truck into the crowd, then a bunch of other COs descended on the crowd and pepper sprayed them and pushed them around. People were hospitalized and terrified. It was horrific. Woodworth was put on leave but then resigned altogether. Still waiting to hear what action RI AG Peter Nehrona will do. The investigation is ongoing.

Two stories (1st a quick read, the 2nd more thorough) from Uprise RI will give you a good sense of the actions of the night and the fallout since:

  • Aug 15 incident -
  • Immigration Activist Community Response -

And, on a much more tragic note, as my fellow Lights for Liberty Rhode Island organizer Rodrigo Pimentel put it...
ICYMI—What happened at the Wyatt this month:
✔️Prison guard runs over Jewish protesters
✔️Detainee sews his mouth shut to get medical care
✔️Guards prevent a detainee from contacting lawyers
✔️Inmate dies
❌Human rights being respected

So, it's a mess and a clusterf*ck and a bit hard to follow if you're not here in the area, hence the confusion for outside coverage from various outlets. I wrote about the incident the day after it happened, and how it is was a shocking sign of the dire times. It's an outrage and a clear violation of so many things, from first amendment rights to peaceful protest, to due process & everything in between; another sign of our ever steeper slide into authoritarianism.