Wyatt cancels board meeting in anticipation of large turnout

Blackstone Valley
Hundreds are expected to gather outside the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls

Hundreds are expected to gather outside the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — With a demonstration planned ahead of the Wyatt Detention Center’s Board of Directors meeting Monday night, the facility decided to reschedule the meeting for a later date.

Wyatt spokesperson Chris Hunter said a large public turnout was anticipated and the decision to postpone the meeting will provide the facility with “sufficient time and appropriate safety measures to accommodate members of the public who would like to participate.”

The prison has been under scrutiny for entering an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house detainees while they await trial.

Last month, protesters stood in front of the facility, blocking off the entrance. A few hours into the protest, a pickup truck was captured on video driving into a group of demonstrators blocking a staff parking lot.

The driver of the truck – identified as Captain Thomas Woodworth, an employee of the prison – was placed on administrative leave following the incident and has since resigned.

The same group of protesters, who are part of a Jewish youth organization called Never Again, had scheduled another demonstration outside the facility before the public board meeting.

One of the organizers, state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, considered the postponement a “temporary victory” for the group and said demonstrators need to be ready to mobilize when the meeting is rescheduled.

“This is a great example of the difference you’re making. The Wyatt and its ICE partners are scared of us,” Regunberg said in an email to members of the youth group. “Together, our community has a lot of power.”

The board meeting’s agenda had included a potential vote on an updated forbearance agreement with the facility’s bondholders, according to a notice posted on the Rhode Island secretary of state’s website, though it did not give details on what the update entails.

But Never Again members say they believe the update to the forbearance agreement has to do with Wyatt’s contract with ICE.

“We have every reason to believe [the potential vote] doubles down on Wyatt’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to serve as a detention facility for migrants,” the group said in a statement. “Our community will continue to prevent business as usual at the Wyatt until we’ve achieved our goal to shut this violent facility down and get ICE out of Rhode Island. If they reschedule this attempted vote, we’ll be there.”

Hunter said the date and time for the postponed meeting will be released soon.

This article was updated to explain that the agenda for the Wyatt board of directors’ meeting listed on the R.I. Secretary of State’s website stated there could be a potential vote on an updated forbearance agreement with the facility’s bondholders.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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