Immediately following the Central Falls City Council emergency meeting a group of about 100 people marched from Central Falls City Hall to the Wyatt Detention Center to demand the release of the ICE detainees, the closing of the prison, and an end to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as an agency.
The march and protest outside Wyatt was organized by AMOR RI (Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance). AMOR is a coalition that fights against deportation, state violence and hate crimes.
“ICE detention is inhumane and we demand that Wyatt end its agreement with ICE and that all those currently detained be released immediately,” wrote AMOR RI in their event announcement. It was revealed last Friday that the Wyatt Detention Center has over 100 ICE detainees in custody with a contract to hold as many as 225.
The protesters marched through the streets of Central Falls, carrying signs and chanting. As the sun set and the wind picked up, it became pretty cold, but the crowd actually grew as the march continued, and there were many people at the Wyatt ahead of the march, waiting for the protesters to arrive.
Once the protest arrived at the prison they chanted and shined lights to make the prisoners aware of their presence. Many prisoners banged on their windows and waved in response.
“Many of [the detainees] are seeking asylum and have now been brought to the northeast without regard to where their families and loved ones may be living,” said Catarina Lorenzo, director of AMOR RI. Lorenzo recalled the detainment of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng, who died in Wyatt custody following months of abuse and a lack of medical care in 2008. “We will not stand for that again. No more. We are not accepting that. That is not right!”
“It’s gross what’s happening here, that people see this as a business, and don’t see these people as communities,” said Heiny Maldonado, executive director of Fuerza Laboral, a worker’s rights center. “Something that happened today and it’s historical is that my Mayor committed to closing down this place, and it’s going to happen.”
“These folks who are in here now are now part of our local community, and we must show up for them just as we show up for folks who have been here for several years,” said Arely Diaz of AMOR RI, referring to the detainees. “They are now part of our community, and we need to be here for them as though they’ve been part of our community their entire lives.”
In addition to the chants and lights, there was singing:
The protesters ended the evening by channeling all their “anger and rage, but also love,” and releasing it in a giant scream.
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