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Interview with Jackie, who was struck by the truck at the Wyatt protest and briefly hospitalized



“I’m still coming out of shock a little bit so I apologize if I’m a little slow on you,” said Jackie, who was struck by the pickup truck driven by Wyatt Detention Center Correctional Officer Thomas Woodworth on Wednesday evening. Jackie was one of over five hundred people protesting with Never Again Providence against the Wyatt’s agreement to house United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees in the for profit prison. She was one of about thirty people blocking the entrance to the Wyatt employee parking lot when the pickup truck barreled into the peaceful protesters.

Jackie being taken to the hospital

Jackie sustained some injuries, and was taken to the hospital and released. We spoke by phone this morning.

“I was sitting on the ground, and I remember someone on my right started singing a Jewish prayer, and my partner, who is Jewish, turned to me and said, ‘I don’t know this one. I’m embarrassed to be Jewish,’ and we laughed. Everyone was laughing, and then I remember the truck came,” said Jackie.

“I was able to rollout of the way [of the tires] in time, and when I stood up the truck hit me, and I was thrown back,” continued Jackie. “It hit me almost in my thigh. I was holding my wrists out, to try to stop it, so it got my upper half, but it’s my legs that are injured from hitting the ground.

“The hospital said I had road rash and swelling and bruising and that the X-ray looked good.” At the hospital Jackie received “nonstop support” and got “a bunch of raised fists from nurses.”

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“The man next to me, Evan, went down with me and he went over me. I don’t know if I pulled him down or if he was also hit. He was at the hospital later, but I couldn’t get a hold of him.”

Also standing near Jackie when the truck hit her was Jerry Belair, who was also hit by the truck and taken to the hospital as well.

The protesters, said Jackie, were just coming to terms with the idea that they were probably not going to be arrested, and that the protest was coming to an end.

Jackie has no regrets about participating in the protest. “I’ll be there next time,” she said.

As for Thomas Woodworth, who drove the car into her, Jackie said, “I looked him in the eye and told him, ‘You hit me,’ and he shrugged.”

Jackie has not been contacted by the police since the event occurred. “They wouldn’t take my statement. I told them I wouldn’t speak to them unless [observers from the National Lawyer’s Guild] were present. The police officer said ‘okay,’ closed their book and walked away.”

I asked Jackie if she was considering a lawsuit.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “That’s not something normally I would do but as I said, I was standing next to Jerry Belair last night and he let everyone know he was a lawyer.”

“I was not prepared for this,” said Jackie. “I thought it was going to be a peaceful event. I was singing… but I’m so grateful I did go. My hope is that this opens a lot of eyes for people who don’t maybe get it.”

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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 half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.


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