A Rhode Island detention facility Captain Thomas Woodworth intentionally drove his official truck, while in uniform, into a crowd of people protesting outside of the building. They were protesting the detention facility’s cooperation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to CNN, five demonstrators were hospitalized. The event was organized by Never Again Action, which describes itself as a collection of Jewish people and their allies protesting ICE and the government’s treatment of migrants.
The Providence Journal reported in May 2019 that more than 100 ICE detainees were being held at the prison, which is publicly owned, but privately operated by the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation.
“Two people were treated for injuries from the truck, including 64-year-old Jerry Belair, who suffered a fractured leg and internal bleeding,” organizer Amy Anthony told CNN in an email.
There were dozens of protestors, some sitting and some standing in front of Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island, including minors, when Woodworth drove his car into the crowd around 10pm. The protestors were blocking the entrance to the employee parking lot.
On top of being hit by a truck, nine more uniformed Wyatt detention center employees sprayed pepper spray into the crowd. Never Again Action said three people were hospitalized for “severe pepper spray exposure.”
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was not publicly on the detention center’s side.
“Our state and our nation were built on the idea that everyone has a right to express their opinion publicly and peacefully,” Raimondo tweeted.
Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat who represents Rhode Island, called the video “very disturbing” and said the state police “must swiftly investigate,” according to CNN.
Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police and an internal investigation being conducted by the facility.
However, this is not Woodworth’s first step into violence. Woodworth was named in a 2007 federal lawsuit filed by a Connecticut inmate alleging excessive force.