Chaos broke out at the protest of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Rhode Island late Wednesday when a truck tried to drive through protesters and corrections officers ended up pepper-spraying the crowd.
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The protest outside the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island, less than 10 miles north of Providence, was led by members of the “Never Again” movement, which likens undocumented immigrants being imprisoned to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. Protesters have been organizing outside the ICE facility since early July.
About a dozen people were treated for irritation due to the pepper spray Wednesday, while one person was taken to the hospital for a minor injury, Providence ABC affiliate WLNE reported.
Protesters surrounded the pick-up truck as it left the facility, with at least one person jumping on the back, before the group refused to move. They could be heard chanting, “The whole world is watching,” as officers repeatedly asked them to move back. After about 45 seconds, at least one corrections officer is seen unleashing a large cloud of pepper spray — sending the dozens of protesters scattering.
The person driving the truck was not an ICE employee, an official told ABC News.
“Every time we ask ourselves would I have done something during the Holocaust? Would I have done something?” protester Jack Silverman told WLNE. “I want to make sure that when I tell my grandkids, ‘This is what was happening in the United States, and they say, ‘Well what did you do?’ I need to say that I did these things, and this is how it helped. Because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself otherwise.”
The group, Never Again, released a statement, saying, “Last night we experienced a small example of the violence that ICE uses against our immigrant neighbors every day. As Jews, our families taught us the lessons of the Holocaust, and we promised that we would speak out and act if we ever saw a group of people being targeted, dehumanized, and rounded up.
“We are answering the call of our ancestors to sound the alarm: #NeverAgainIsNow. Every person in the United States needs to join the fight to close the concentration camps, shut down ICE, and secure permanent protection for all undocumented people in the U.S.”
The protest had been peaceful throughout the night until just before 10 p.m.
“Correctional officers came out and physically pushed us out of the way and then pepper-sprayed us, which is burning my face right now,” protester Jared Goldstein told WLNE.
Eighteen people were arrested at a protest by the same group outside of Wyatt Detention Center on July 2, according to the Providence Journal.
ABC News’ Alondra Valle and Will Gretsky contributed to this report.
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