Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, Central Falls, Rhode Island
April 3rd, 2020
Nearly 70 detainees engaged in a hunger strike to demand their immediate release amid concerns about the potential rapid spread of COVID-19 among detainees. Immigration courts remain closed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, leaving detainees in limbo and unsure when they will open again.
Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, a pastor with the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network, described the reason for the action, saying, “I think the hunger strike is coming from being desperate.” According to Gonzalez Milliken, the detention center is ripe for the rapid spread of the potentially deadly COVID-19.
In a recording made by one of the strikers, they describe the gravity of the situation and their desire to be reunited with their loved ones. On the recording a detainee can be heard saying, “People are dying out there. We want to be there with our families.” The detainees declined to identify themselves for fear of retaliation.
Wyatt, resumed housing ICE detainees last year following a 10-year hiatus that began after a Chinese man died in custody after symptoms of his liver cancer went ignored.
“More than 60 ICE detainees on ‘hunger strike’ call for release from Wyatt“, Providence Journal, April 7th, 2020
Article published: 4/13/2020
Header photo source: Wikipedia