Hundreds return to Wyatt Detention Facility to protest ICE agreement

Blackstone Valley

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — The rain didn’t keep hundreds of protesters from marching to the Wyatt Detention Facility Tuesday evening.

The Central Falls prison has been scrutinized for months for entering into an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold detainees while they await trial. There are currently more than 100 immigrants being held at the Wyatt Detention Facility.

Never Again Action, the Jewish youth group leading the protests, has been calling on the prison to end its contract with ICE, and for Gov. Gina Raimondo to ban private, for-profit prisons in Rhode Island.

The facility’s Board of Directors voted back in October to approve an updated agreement with its bondholders — which Never Again Action argues will strengthen the prison’s contract with ICE.

Former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, a member of Never Again Action, said Tuesday’s protest is part of a nationwide movement against ICE — which began Friday in Washington D.C. with a protest against BlackRock Capital Investment Corporation — which is one of the prison’s bondholders.

Regunberg said Never Again Action is committed to preventing business as usual for ICE wherever it operates, including in Rhode Island.

“We want to send a message to the Wyatt, to UMB Bank, to all of the bondholders and companies that are profiting off the violence and inhumanity of this system,” Regunberg said. “We want to send a message that we are not going anywhere.”

“We’re not afraid and we’re going to be in this fight until we have a world without these walls, this barbed wire, without ICE,” Regunberg added.

Central Falls City Council voted back in April to cut ties with the prison. Councilwoman Jessica Vega, who attended the protest Tuesday, said she could not comment on the case because it is pending federal litigation.

Vega did say, however, that the city council does not want the facility operating in Central Falls anymore.

“Progress takes time, but in the meantime, we’re going to continue to come out and march and protest and make sure that we’re being vigilant about what’s happening at the Wyatt Detention Facility,” Vega said.

A spokesperson for the Wyatt said the prison has no comment on the protest.

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