Never Again RI brings battle against The Wyatt to the House floor“While our elected officials chose to ignore the Wyatt Detention Center, it tripled its population of ICE detainees – from 34 to over 100 in June alone – and is poised to further expand its population,” writes Never Again RI in a statement. “Never Again Action Rhode Island is committed to making it impossible for legislators to ignore their moral obligation to end the practice of ICE detention in our state.”
Published on June 30, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist
Activists unfurled a banner on the floor of the Rhode Island House of Representatives that read “Never Again is Now” on Tuesday. The activists from Never Again Rhode Island are demanding that the House pass three bills – H5749, H5776, and H5750 – with the aim of shutting down the Wyatt Detention Center. According to Sasha Berkoff, an organizer with Never Again RI, the activists arrived at the Rhode Island State House around the time a fire alarm cleared the building. This provided a unique opportunity for the artists, who were able to approached legislators, hand them flyers, and advocate for the passage of the bills. After the alarm was cleared, everyone re-entered the building. The banner was unfurled, photos were taken and the activists were asked to leave the House Chamber, which they did.
Never Again RI has been advocating against the Wyatt, a private for profit prison in Central Falls, Rhode Island organized under a thin legal veneer of being a publicly accountable non-profit facility, for years. In March 2019 it was learned that the Wyatt would once again be accepting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees under the Trump Administration’s Southwest Border Zero Tolerance Initiative. The facility had been denied ICE contracts in the past due to the death of Jason Ng, an immigration detainee who died tragically while in Wyatt custody in 2008.
The battle to stop the Wyatt from participating on resulted in protests led by AMOR (Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance), The Fang Collective and Never Again Action RI. At one such protest a prison guard drove his truck into a line of protesters, injuring several, and Wyatt Correctional Officers stormed into the protesters using pepper spray and violence against them. No charges were brought by Attorney General Peter Neronha for these assaults.
The bills introduced in the House by Joshua Giraldo (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls) would go a long way towards shutting down Wyatt’s operations in Rhode Island. Companion legislation has been submitted in the Senate by Senator Jonathan Acosta (Democrat, District 16, Central Falls).
- H5749 / S0399 would repeal the Municipal Detention Facility Corporations law and prohibit the operation of private detention facilities and private public partnerships within the state. Those currently in operation, such as the Wyatt, could continue to do so until December 31, 2028.
- H5750, S0400 would prohibit contracts with private, for-profit prison facilities or with ICE.
- H5751, S0394) would provide for a safety inspection of the Wyatt Detention Facility twice a year.
All the bills were heard in committee and “held for further study” meaning they have staggered off into legislative limbo with little hope of being voted on in committee or on the floor as the 2021 legislative session draws to a close. This, as the ICE detainee population has more than tripled in June, from 31 detainees on June 3 to 102 detainees as of June 28 – with the potential to expand even more.
“While our elected officials chose to ignore the Wyatt Detention Center, it tripled its population of ICE detainees – from 34 to over 100 in June alone – and is poised to further expand its population,” writes Never Again RI in a statement. “Never Again Action Rhode Island is committed to making it impossible for legislators to ignore their moral obligation to end the practice of ICE detention in our state.”
Thank you to Katherine Coumes for the photo.
UpriseRI has written extensively about the Wyatt, the ICE Detainees and community efforts to shut the prison down:
- With no explanation, Wyatt ICE detainee population explodes 316%
- Dozens testify against the Wyatt in Senate Committee meeting
- Central Falls lawmakers introduce legislation to shut down the Wyatt
- Demonstrators blockade roads to Wyatt Detention Center, Demand closure of the facility
- We Keep Us Safe: The election day march to shut down the Wyatt
- Bail hearings for ICE detainees at Wyatt: More than two dozen released
- Judge’s decision reveals why all Wyatt ICE detainees are being given bail hearings starting tomorrow
- Judge orders immediate bail hearings for ICE detainees at Wyatt Detention Center
- Judge grants motion for ICE detainee bail hearings at Wyatt
- COVID-19 cases have exploded at the Wyatt; Is the ACI next? State officials say no…
- ACLU class-action lawsuit seeks release for all ICE detainees at Wyatt Detention Center
- COVID-19 at Wyatt has doubled in latest report
- 13 detainees and three staff test positive for COVID-19 at Wyatt
- Wyatt cannot guarantee safety of medically vulnerable detainees, determines Court
- Correctional officer tests positive for COVID-19 at Wyatt
- Another ICE detainee released from Wyatt; Prison now has at least six COVID-19 cases
- Judge orders immediate release of two health compromised ICE detainees from Wyatt during pandemic
- Activists digitally protest Wyatt Board meeting; more details on COVID-19 at prison revealed
- Wyatt inmate tests positive for COVID-19, prison on lockdown
- Three Wyatt detainees allege unhygienic conditions, petition for release
- Never Again Action protests ICE detention amid COVID-19 at the Wyatt – from their cars
- The story I couldn’t write about the Wyatt
- Wyatt Detention Facility making progress towards resolution with bondholders and City of Central Falls, says prison board
- Treasurer Magaziner urges Wyatt bondholder Invesco to address community concerns over prison
- Carolers visit Wyatt Detention Center on Christmas Eve
- AMOR disrupts State Treasurer meeting over State’s continued business with Wyatt bondholders
- Never Again Action returns to the Wyatt Detention Facility
- Community Safety Survey in Central Falls indicates 98.4 percent feel negatively towards the Wyatt
- Attorney General Neronha opens up on the grand jury not indicting Wyatt correctional officers
- Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR) delivers letters to Wyatt bondholders
- Wyatt board approves forbearance agreement that effectively cedes control of prison to bondholders
- No Charges Against Wyatt Correctional Officers in Attack on Peaceful Protesters
- Wyatt Board violated both the Open Meetings Act and the Access to Public Records Act, determines RI Attorney General in pair of decisions
- Central Falls City Council approves James Lombardi III to chair Wyatt Board
- Wyatt board delays vote on forbearance agreement as protesters turn their backs
- Never Again Action and AMOR will demonstrate at Wyatt board meeting
- Did protesters shut down Friday night’s Wyatt board meeting?
- Never Again Action and AMOR will demand answers and action from Wyatt Board at Friday meeting
- Wyatt cancels board meeting citing safety concerns
- Due to UMB Bank, Wyatt lawsuit prompts protest outside Kemper Museum in Missouri
- Statement from Central Falls Mayor James Diossa on the Wyatt incident
- Attorney General Peter Neronha speaks to the press about the ongoing Wyatt investigation
- Never Again Providence calls for the closing of the Wyatt Detention Center in the wake of violence at peaceful protest
- In the aftermath of the assault at the Wyatt, Central Falls Police Officers refused to take statements from witnesses and victims
- Remi: A street medic at the Wyatt recounts their experience
- A peaceful event: Never Again Providence protests the ICE contract with the Wyatt Detention Center
- Interview with Jackie, who was struck by the truck at the Wyatt protest and briefly hospitalized
- Representative David Cicilline statement on violence outside Wyatt
- Wyatt Detention Facility statement regarding August 15 protest incident
- Photos from the Never Again Providence protest outside the Wyatt Detention Center
- Scenes from after the Wyatt Correctional Officer attack on the Never Again Providence protesters
- Statement from the Attorney General Peter Neronha on Wyatt Detention Center Incident
- Never Again Providence protest outside Wyatt ends in violence as correctional officers attack protesters
- Not for profit? – Wyatt Detention Center issues a statement defending the facility’s standards and detainees access to Health, Legal and Religious Services
- Meeting of the Wyatt Board generates more questions than answers
- Central Falls Police Report for the Never Again protest arrests outside the Wyatt
- Never Again Is Now: 18 people arrested protesting ICE and concentration camps outside the Wyatt Detention Center
- FANG visits the Wyatt Detention Facility’s “Special Master” at Locke Lord LLC
- Judge orders that ICE detainees can be held at the Wyatt
- Central Falls elected officials counter sue Wyatt bondholders under ‘Anti-SLAPP law’
- ICE detainees can stay at Wyatt while lawsuit talks underway; Wyatt board holds emergency meeting 9am Sunday morning
- ICE detainees at Wyatt get ‘Know Your Rights’ presentation from immigration attorneys
- Wyatt Bondholders sue Central Falls Mayor, City Council and Detention Facility Corporation for $130 million
- Wyatt lawyers respond to my APRA repeal
- AMOR attempts to contact ICE detainees held at Wyatt Detention Center
- Wyatt Board suspends ICE contract for 90 days; Detainees need to be moved out in seven days
- Central Falls City Council begins their move against the Wyatt by revoking foundational resolutions
- Central Falls Mayor, City Council President visit Wyatt Detention Center
- Wyatt Detention Facility refuses to release information on ICE detainees
- Central Falls City Council members lead march against Wyatt Detention Center
- Reactions to Wyatt Dentention Center crisis
- Protesters march from Central Falls City Hall to Wyatt Detention Center to call for an end to ICE detentions
- At emergency meeting, Mayor and City Council say they are done with Wyatt Detention Center
- Central Falls Mayor Diossa: Wyatt Detention Center needs to be shut down immediately
- Wyatt facility to once again house ICE immigration detainees
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