Jewish activists and allies with Never Again Action were staging a peaceful protest outside a Rhode Island detention facility that jails immigrants for the federal government when a man in a truck, reportedly a corrections officer at the facility, drove straight into the group and sent several to the hospital. “Local police officers working at the protest did not intervene,” activists told The Washington Post, “and the driver eventually walked into the prison after other guards pepper-sprayed the protesters.”
The horrifying moment was captured on video: As dozens of activists sat peacefully on the street outside the Wyatt Detention Facility, a driver sped up into the crowd while blasting his horn. Activists screamed as others chanted, “Shame!” But the driver only kept pushing into activists, continuing to drive several feet even as they were clearly standing right in front of the truck. “The whole world is watching!” others chanted. “5 people went to the hospital,” Never Again Action said in a tweet, “including 2 who were hit by the truck.”
While it’s not clear if the corrections officer has been identified by name, Never Again Action’s Amy Anthony told Newsweek, “We have confirmed that the person driving the truck is a correctional officer who works for the detention facility. The driver was in his uniform when he hit the protestors. His rank and name were embroidered on his shirt and he was wearing a badge at the time."
The assault came in the same week that a Border Patrol agent pleaded guilty to hitting a migrant with his truck, and in the same week of the second anniversary of activist Heather Heyer’s killing by a driver at a right-wing riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. “It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” Anthony continued. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.” That’s exactly what it looked like, and state leaders say they’re beginning probes into the attack.
“I share the outrage Rhode Islanders are feeling about the incident depicted in the video at the Wyatt Detention Center,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “Our state and our nation were built on the idea that everyone has a right to express their opinion publicly and peacefully. President Trump’s immigration policies are immoral, and these Rhode Islanders were exercising their constitutional right to protest. I am in communication with Rhode Island State Police Colonel Jim Manni regarding the events of last night, and we are committed to a full investigation.”
As the Trump administration’s actions against migrants and their families have escalated in cruelty, protests by Jewish activists and allies have also grown louder, with thousands going into the streets in recent weeks to say, “Never again.” In one action that shut down an ICE office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim said, “Our whole lives we were taught, ‘You shall not stand idly by.’ We refuse to remain silent when migrants face inhumane treatment.”