Captain Thomas Woodworth, a correctional officer at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island, has resigned from his position after a video showing him driving a truck through a crowd of protesters went viral. The demonstrators were protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which has contracts with the prison, according to TIME.
Five people were treated at the hospital following the incident with one of the protesters, a man in his sixties, suffering a broken leg.
From local news outlet WPRI:
Protesters then made attempts to stop the truck from driving away by surrounding it. At that point, several officers were seen on video misting the crowd with what appears to be pepper spray after asking them to move away from the truck.
The protest was organized by the Jewish youth group “Never Again Action.”
Woodworth had initially been placed on administrative leave pending results of an investigation after the incident, but he ultimately chose to resign from his position on Friday, August 16 as the backlash continued.
Here is video of the incident:
— ABC News (@ABC) August 15, 2019
“The Wyatt supports the First Amendment right of citizens to peacefully protest on public property surrounding the facility, and the First Amendment right of journalists to report on the facility,” a spokesman from the Wyatt Detention Facility said in a statement.
Other videos show protesters lying on the ground after engaging with the truck and pepper spray being used.
Several people ended up going to the hospital. Meanwhile the guards, including the driver of the vehicle, returned to the private prison where they are holding #ICE detainees. The police did nothing other than take witness statements. #NeverAgainIsNow pic.twitter.com/YTEQzcXooZ
— Sam Eilertsen ✡️ (@SamEilertsen) August 15, 2019
“It was a shocking escalation of violence,” Aaron Regunberg, an organizer with Never Again Action and a former Rhode Island state representative, said. “But the real lesson for all of us is, if this institution is willing to unleash that kind of violence in front of bystanders … what kind of violence are immigrant detainees behind those walls with no cameras being subject to every single day?”
Luckily no one was seriously injured in the incident.