Some were sitting cross legged on the floor; others stood and held signs. Together, the protesters blocked off the entrance to the parking lot of a prison that works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As they chanted on Wednesday night, a black pickup truck drove toward them. When the protesters rose and yelled at the driver, who was honking, the car briefly stopped. Then, it continued to drive into the Wyatt Detention Facility parking lot, striking several people. A few ended up at a hospital.
Protesters say the driver was a correctional officer at the Central Falls, Rhode Island private prison, and officers at the scene of the protest, didn’t step in, according to The Washington Post. Guards then pepper-sprayed protesters and the driver then reportedly entered the prison.
Some of the protesters belong to Never Again Action, a Jewish activist group, but there were others from Fang Collective, Progresso Latino Rhode Island, Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance and Fuerza Laboral. For the activists, it was a confusing and frightening moment.
“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” Amy Anthony, a spokesman for Never Again Action, told The Washington Post. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.”
While this may have influenced some to stop protesting, Anthony said this horrible moment makes it clear that they need to continue their work. “If this is the way this correction officer is behaving in public when people are recording,” she said, “it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening.”