CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (CBS/AP) — A worker is on leave and Rhode Island’s attorney general said Thursday he is investigating after a truck drove at a group protesting federal immigration policies at a detention center.
At least five people were injured Wednesday night outside the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, according to the Jewish youth movement Never Again Action. The center is used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. One person was treated for a broken leg and others were treated for pepper spray exposure.
A video posted by the group on social media shows a black pickup that protesters say was operated by a corrections officer driving up to an entrance blocked by demonstrators. The vehicle stops before again moving forward.
Protesters surround the truck, screaming and chanting: “The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”
Democratic Attorney General Peter Neronha said in a statement that it was unfortunate and that his office was gathering facts.
Wyatt said Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
“The incident which occurred last night is currently being investigated by the Rhode Island State Police. Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top to bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers’ response, and the Wyatt’s protocols regarding protest activities outside of the facility,” a statement from the facility read. “The Wyatt supports the First Amendment right of citizens to peacefully protest on public property surrounding the facility, and the First Amendment right of journalists to report on the facility.”
“I share the outrage Rhode Islanders are feeling about the incident depicted in the video at the Wyatt Detention Center. Our state and our nation were built on the idea that everyone has a right to express their opinion publicly and peacefully,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, also a Democrat, tweeted that he found video of the standoff “very disturbing.”
“The right of a free people to protest their government is fundamental to our democracy,” Cicilline said, urging Wyatt officials to fully cooperate with the investigation.
Never Again Action said in a statement that about 300 people had gathered at the prison and about 30 protesters had blocked entrances to the facility for several hours leading up to the confrontation with the truck driver.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)