Members and allies of the FANG Collective entered the law offices of Locke Lord LLP in Providence on Monday to call on Deming Sherman to do his duty as the Special Master of the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island and ensure that the detained immigrants there are afforded their full rights and access to lawyers.
Immigrants detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are once more being held at the Wyatt Detention Center, a move that immigration advocates and Central Falls elected officials have largely decried. After the Wyatt Board rescinded the contract between Wyatt and the ICE, bondholders sued, and won a preliminary injunction request made by the trustees of the Wyatt, that is, the bondholders of UMB Bank.
Sherman was made the Special Master,”accountable only to the court” by United States Chief judge William Smith, who is overseeing that case. The $130M lawsuit, which also names the Mayor and the Central Falls City Council as defendants, has effectively silenced the elected officials until at least July, when Judge Smith plans to look at the case again.
At the time of Sherman’s appointment as Special Master, Central Falls City Solicitor Matthew Jerzyk painted the appointment of Sherman as a win for the City, saying that the “Special Master will ensure that the Constitutional rights of the ICE detainees at Wyatt will be protected.” Jerzyk added that to his knowledge, there is no other detention facility in the country where the constitutional rights of detainees in the United States have such an advocate.
However, in Judge Smith’s’ decision, appointing a Special Master, the job is described as being created to, “effectively and promptly respond to disputes brought to the attention of the Special Master, arising out of any activity or vote of the Board of Directors that may impair and/or negatively impact the assets of the Corporation, the security of the Bonds and/or the revenue stream of the Corporation.” No mention is made of protecting the Constitutional rights of ICE detainees.
Can we please ask a favor?
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“We are concerned community members coming in to speak with Mr Deming Sherman,” said Lee, leading about a dozen people into the offices of Locke Lord. “We know he’s not here right now but we still want to give him this message:
“As we all know, Mr Deming Sherman is serving as Special Master, which we’re not sure about that title to begin with – if it has any ties to chattel slaver… but [Sherman]’s been involved in the case which has allowed the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls to [reinstate] its agreement with ICE.
“People are seeking asylum and coming in from the so called US-Mexico border and are being detained in Rhode Island right now in Central Falls, because of this lawsuit that the bond holders of the Wyatt Detention Center have put against the City of Central Falls. [The Judge has] put the Special Master role on Mr Demming Sherman, who works at Locke Lord here and is allowing for this agreement, that’s holding detainees and allowing the deportation of people, to happen.
“So we’re here,” continued Lee. “We’re demanding that Mr Sherman do everything in his power to allow for legal representation to go inside the detention center and really bring more consultation for people who are seeking asylum. Folks are coming in seeking asylum and they’re not allowed to see any lawyer whatsoever.”
Building security then arrived and told everyone that unless they want to get arrested, they had to leave. “I will have a no trespass issued against all of you,” said the security officer. He also told the people holding the banners to take them down.
“Deming Sherman doesn’t work here any more,” said an older white-haired man, walking into the lobby from the back offices. The older white-haired man failed to introduce himself. “He retired…”
“He has an office,” said one of the concerned community members.
“He has an office but he doesn’t work here any more,” said the older white-haired man.
“We just have a demand that people that are being detained at the Wyatt Detention Center get legal representation,” said Lee. “It’s fitting that we come to a law office to ask for that. And that’s why we’re here. We’re asking that people that are seeking asylum to get legal representation and that’s not happening.”
“We are a private law office,” said the older, white-haired man. “You have to leave.”
“If Locke Lord provided services provided services to the people detained in Wyatt Detention Center that would be great,” said Lee.
“Call the police,” said the older, white-haired man to the building’s security officer.
“We just want this message to be delivered to Mr Demming Sherman since he’s not here,” countered Lee. “I’m really sad that you’re just calling the police on us when we’re just trying to deliver a message.”
“I’m sorry,” said the older, white-haired man. “This is a private business…”
“But he is the Special Master, that’s a public office…” said a concerned community members
“He is not an employee or a partner of this firm anymore,” said the older, white-haired man. “He is retired. We, as a courtesy to him, give him in office.”
“If he has an office, that’s why we’re here,” said Lee. “If you have ties with this person that’s called a Special Master we’re going to be coming to this office.”
“Why don’t you go to the Governor?” asked the older, white-haired man. “She has ties to him. Why don’t go to the judge? Go to Judge Smith. He has ties with [Sherman], he appointed him. Try to get into the courthouse,” advised the older, white-hair man with a smile, knowing that security at the courthouse is considerable.
“Considering that we are asking for legal representation for people that are seeking asylum we thought it fitting to come here, where [Sherman] has an office.” said Lee. “We want this message delivered to him. If you know him personally, please let him know that we were here, that we’re demanding that legal representation is given to people that are seeking asylum in Central Falls right now. People are fleeing violence, people are trying to establish homes to be united with their families, and we’re calling for him, Demming Sherman, Special Master, to do everything in his power to get them representation.”
The concerned community members then left the offices of Locke Lord LLC, chanting, “Shut down the Wyatt! Shut down the Wyatt!”
The entire visit lasted under five minutes.
The action was part of the FANG Collective’s Week of Action, which kicked off with a social media storm on Monday against our first target: UMB Bank. UMB Bank responded on Twitter:
We hope the following information provides a clearer picture of our involvement with the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility. pic.twitter.com/oU9W0q2Y1A— UMB Bank (@UMBBank) June 24, 2019
Tomorrow there is a “Call-in Day to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn” and on Saturday there’s a planned “Rally Against ICE” at the Bristol County House of Corrections.
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