ICE detention facility apologizes to Jewish protesters for holding meeting just before Shabbat


(JTA) — The Rhode Island ICE detention center where a guard drove into a row of Jewish protesters apologized for holding a recent board meeting less than an hour before Shabbat.

In the face of Jewish protest, the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Central Falls, postponed a board meeting that had been scheduled for Sept. 9, a Monday, citing safety concerns. It rescheduled the meeting for that Friday at 6 p.m.

“We apologize to our Jewish friends and ask for your forgiveness,” said Wilder Arboleda, a Wyatt board member who chaired a subsequent meeting on Monday, according to the Brown Daily Herald. Arboleda added that the Friday time was “insensitive and wrong.”

Jewish protesters came to the Friday meeting anyway and held an impromptu Sabbath prayer service. One protester also blew a shofar, which is traditionally blown at this time of year.

Last month, a Wyatt guard drove his pickup truck into a row of Jewish protesters who were blocking the street entrance to the facility. Guards at the detention center then pepper-sprayed the protesters. The driver, Capt. Thomas Woodworth, resigned shortly after the incident.

At the Monday meeting, the board was scheduled to vote on a proposed sale of the facility to a private corporation. The Jewish protesters, from a new anti-ICE group called Never Again Action, are calling on the facility to be shut down.

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