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No takers during public comment for Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation board meeting



The Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation Board (CFDFC) met Wednesday morning to discuss the lawsuit filed against the Board and Central Falls elected officials by the bondholders, identified as UMB Bank, North America in the lawsuit. The CFDFC oversees the Wyatt Detention Facility. Ahead of the discussion with their lawyers, which was held privately in executive session, Board Chair Joseph Molina Flynn opened the floor for public comment. No member of the public spoke.

I asked Molina Flynn if he thought the lack of public comment was due to fear, that is, people not wanting to put themselves at risk of a lawsuit for expressing their opinions, as seems to be the case for Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, Central Falls City Council President Maria Rivera and other City Councilors named in the lawsuit.

“I hope not,” said Molina Flynn. “This is a public entity after all, and I hope people feel empowered to come into this space and say what they need to say about the corporation, about the prison, about the City of Central Falls and whatever they need to say is welcome here. That’s why we put a space for public comment on the agenda for today… I hope that the litigation and the ongoing nature of these closed discussions doesn’t push people away.

“I think the timing [of the meeting] is a little uncomfortable,” continued Molina Flynn. “It’s 9am on a Wednesday, people have to work.”

When asked how many United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees are currently being held at the Wyatt Detention Facility, Molina Flynn said, “I believe there are none. I believe the last group of them left earlier this week.”

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Due to the ongoing litigation, the minutes from the executive session were sealed.

Here’s the video of the CFDFC board meeting before and after the executive session.

Here’s board Chair Joseph Molina Flynn taking questions from reporters after the meeting

Joseph Molina Flynn
Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.