Officers Use Pepper Spray at Protest

A Jewish youth group, Never Again Action, has been demonstrating at Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices and detention centers nationally. This August, around the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, Never Again Action, organized a protest at the Wyatt Detention Centre to protest the facility’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The facility has been accepting ICE detainees since March. They are also calling on Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to outlaw the operation of private, for-profit prisons. 

Protest against ICE at the Wyatt Detention Center. Photo from Boston Globe.

An estimate of 500 supporters gathered to protest with the group, including Gina Rose Napolitano ‘20, Evan Laferriere ‘19 and Caleigh Grogan ‘18. 

Napolitano, a senior at Wheaton College who also attended the protest, said she was unaware of the facility’s contract with ICE prior to the protest. “That just screams corruption, to any person that is unbiased,” said Napolitano. 

A black pickup truck, manned by an officer in a Wyatt uniform, drove into protesters. 

Other officers used pepper spray to disperse the group. Two protestors were hospitalized for injuries suffered from the vehicle, while three were rushed to the hospital for “severe pepper spray exposure,” including Evan Laferriere ‘19, a graduate of Wheaton College. 

Aaron Regunberg, a former state representative and organizer with Never Again Action, said the corrections officer behind the wheel was in uniform when he drove into the line of people, which the video from the protest shows. Regunberg said that the officer was not arrested.

“It was very clearly deliberate,” said Regunberg.

“I think it just reminds me of the Charlottesville car attack,” said Napolitano, “It rang a terrifying bell, and it was made clear to me that we have a lot to do. Silence is essentially being complicit so, everyone should get involved.”

Caleigh Grogan ‘18, also present at the protest, agreed with Napolitano. “The action of this employee and the coworkers who backed him up, is a terrifying glimpse into how these violations of peoples’ rights are on the rise and getting more and more violent all over the country,” said Grogan.