Several people were taken to the hospital Wednesday evening after a pickup truck drove into a row of Jewish protestors blocking an entrance at an ICE detention center in Rhode Island.
Some injuries were caused by the truck and others from the affects of being pepper-sprayed by detention officials, said Matthew Harvey, a spokesperson for Never Again Providence who was at the protest.
Between 400 and 500 people gathered in an attempt to shut down the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Central Falls. At about 9 p.m., the crowd thinned a little and moved to the entrance of the guard parking lot, coinciding with the center’s staff shift change. The protestors linked arms and continued chanting, singing and praying, Harvey said.
At about 9:45 p.m., a pickup truck swerved into the row of protestors. Some jumped up out of the way and others tried to block its process. The driver was in a detention center’s uniform, with a badge and walkie talkie, according to Harvey, and at one point he revved his engine. After a few minutes of idling, a few more officials arrived and pushed protestors. About half a dozen people were on the ground from being pepper-sprayed. EMT aids were on site to help until ambulances arrived.
Some left without being admitted, but others, like a man in his 70s who suffered a broken leg, stayed the night. Several told Harvey on Thursday that they still felt the effect of the pepper spray, and one person had to return to the hospital to seek treatment.
The group protested once before at Wyatt on July 2, which ended peacefully. On Wednesday night, the crowd was “shocked, horrified,” Harvey said, and left “shaken up and scared.” But he said it mostly heightened fears at the worse treatment the immigrants must be getting behind the center’s walls. The violence proved to him that the group is having an effect and is being seen as a threat.
“We’re not going to be deterred,” Harvey said. “We’ll be back.”