Wyatt jail opponents stage peaceful protest

Protesters with “Never Again Action” sit down in front of the gate at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls on December 10, 2019. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Four months after a violent protest between protesters and jail guards, the Wyatt Detention Center was the scene of a more peaceful demonstration Tuesday, as several hundred members of the “Never Again Action” group called for an end to the jail’s role in keeping immigration detainees for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, or ICE.

About 18 protesters sat down in front of the gate as several hundred of their supporters chanted and rallied in the street alongside the controversial jail, where a similar protest last August resulted in several injuries when a jail guard hit a group of protesters with a pickup truck, and guards unleashed pepper spray on the crowd.

“I think that there’s no question morally why we’re doing this and to be honest, it’s confusing to me how this is even controversial,” said Dr. Aurit Lazerus, a psychologist in Providence and coordinator for “Never Again Action”.

“We will not give up until we have won the better world that we know is possible,” said organizer Aaron Regunberg into a loudspeaker as he brought the protest to a conclusion, vowing to return and to press the General Assembly in the new year to consider legislation to bar the quasi-public jail from holding immigrant detainees on behalf of ICE.

Earlier in the day, in Kansas City, Missouri, police arrested a half-dozen “Never Again Action” protesters at the headquarters of UMB Bank, a holder of Wyatt Center bonds, as part of a coordinated protest against the jail.