A man wearing a guard uniform in a pick up truck drove into a group of ICE demonstrators on Wednesday night outside the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
The protesters, picketing outside the facility that has contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were organized by Never Again Action, a Jewish group formed in the past two months calling for the end of ICE detention, and Amor, a Rhode Island-based immigrant rights group.
Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action, told NBC News that earlier in the evening, a group of around 400 people had gathered outside the facility to protest, the second time the group has planned an action outside the detention center.
As the protest died down, about 30 demonstrators linked arms and sat in the facility’s parking lot entrances to block staff from leaving or entering, Anthony said. The group was peacefully protesting when seemingly out of nowhere a man in a pick-up truck drove towards them, slowing down just before hitting the crowd, footage of the incident shows. The video then shows the driver continuing to drive through the crowd, as protesters scream and try to get away from the car.
Anthony described the interaction that took place just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday as “terrifying,” saying the “brazen act” shows the driver of truck believed he is “beyond reproach.” She said several people suffered non-life threatening injuries from the incident, and some were brought to a local hospital, including an elderly protester whose leg was fractured during the incident. She also added a father was in the crowd with his three children.
Never Again Action believes the driver worked at the privately-run facility, based on his uniform that can be seen in the video. While police were at the protest, they did not intervene, Anthony said, and video of the incident shows the protesters yelling at the driver, who appeared unfazed by the interaction. Soon after the pick-up truck almost hit the crowd, Never Again Action says other guards at the facility pepper-sprayed the crowd and escorted the driver of the truck into the facility.
Representatives for the Wyatt Detention Facility, the Central Falls police, and ICE did not return NBC News’ requests for comment.
The protest was one of over 30 demonstrations Never Again Action has held around the country in the past two months, and Anthony said despite last night’s incident, the group will remain steadfast in their mission to free all migrants from detention.
“We will not be deterred by the violence that was taken against us last night,” she said, adding that if a person she believes to be a guard at the facility is behaving this way in public, she can’t imagine what his behavior looks like behind closed doors.
“People are being harmed in ICE custody every day,” Anthony said. “This is exactly why we are doing what we’re doing.”