AP NEWS

Charges dropped against protesters at a detention facility

July 11, 2019

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) — Charges against 16 people who protested outside a Rhode Island detention facility used by federal immigration officials were dismissed Thursday.

The Providence Journal reports the protesters agreed to make donations or do community service work. In exchange, the disorderly conduct charges were dismissed. Most donated to groups that help immigrant communities.

The protest was part of a national campaign by the Jewish youth movement Never Again. About 200 people protested the Trump administration’s immigration policies at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls last week.

Eighteen people were arrested for blocking vehicle access to the facility, including former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, a Providence Democrat.

“While this is an outcome we’re all grateful for, this is certainly not the end of this fight, or our involvement in it,” Regunberg said outside of court. “We’re committed to continuing to speak up, to stand up beside our immigrant neighbors until this state-sponsored dehumanization and persecution and exclusion is over.”

Two people who couldn’t make it to court Thursday are expected to take the same deal.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa has said recently that the Wyatt detention facility should be shut down. He told WPRI-TV that he supports peaceful protests and understands the passion behind the recent demonstration, but also emphasized that protesters were given several chances to move before they were arrested.

The Boston office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started using the space for detainees again in March, a decade after a man’s death there ended the practice.

In 2008, 34-year-old Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng Eng died of advanced liver cancer while held there. When the immigration agency ended its contract with Wyatt in 2009, it said that an internal investigation found a lack of communication about Ng’s health care needs.

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