On August 15 2019, Facebook posts (sometimes covered for graphic violence) appeared about an incident during which protesters at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in (Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island) were reportedly struck and injured by a man driving a truck:
The protesters were sitting on the pavement to block staff from parking at a Rhode Island prison that works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement when a black pickup truck swerved toward them. The protesters shouted as the driver laid on the horn, and the truck briefly stopped.
And then, the driver hit the gas.
One shared by the page “Steel City John Brown Gun Club” stated:
CW: violence with a vehicle
Last night an ICE guard attempted to ram his truck through a Jewish led crowd of protesters at the Wyatt Detention Center in RI. The protesters still managed to stop the vehicle and held their ground. When the police descended on the scene, rather than arrest the attempted murderer, they pepper sprayed the crowd and provided the ICE guard an armed escort into his concentration camp.
The attached photograph should roughly a dozen people who were either injured or attending injuries. Another post shared by “Central Arkansas Antifa” displayed an image of the purported driver of the truck:
Above a photograph of a white guard with a military haircut, text read:
Captain Thomas Woodworth, of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, is the ICE guard who drove his truck through a crowd of Jewish protesters[.]
Early on the morning of August 15 2019, ABC News reported that several demonstrators were struck and injured by a truck outside an ICE facility in Rhode Island during a nonviolent “Never Again” protest late the night before. ABC News linked to a since-deleted article published by local outlet WLNE-TV, published just after midnight.
Originally, it stated that what had been a peaceful protest changed when a purported corrections officer stationed at the facility appeared to deliberately drive into a large crowd of mostly Jewish protesters. An updated version of the article reported that Captain Thomas Woodworth was indeed at the wheel:
Things took a scary turn at a protest outside the Wyatt Detention Facility Wednesday night when a pick-up truck drove into a group of people, and now a corrections officer has been placed on administrative leave.
The group of protesters had been blocking the entrance to a parking lot in protest of the facility’s relationship with ICE and the treatment of immigrants at the U.S. – Mexico border.
The roughly 600 protesters were part of the ‘Never Again’ movement which is primarily made up of Jewish people likening some of the current immigration issues to how Jews were treated during the Holocaust.
The protest had been peaceful for most of the night. Then around 9:45 P.M. our reporters heard screaming and saw people running.
The pick-up truck that barreled into the people was driven by Capt. Thomas Woodworth, who was placed on administrative leave, according to a statement.
“If this is the way this correctional officer is behaving in public when people are recording, it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening,” protester Amy Anthony told the Washington Post.
ABC6 reporter Brittany Comak referenced a statement issued by Wyatt Detention Facility after the incident, in which Woodworth was said to have been placed on administrative leave:
Another local news organization, the Providence Journal, reported that Woodworth was identified by name in video of the incident:
In a news release, Wyatt identified the officer on leave as Capt. Thomas Woodworth. A spokesman for the jail would not say whether Woodworth was the man driving the truck, but in video of the incident, protesters could be heard shouting his name as they surrounded the vehicle when it came to a stop.
A local gubernatorial candidate addressed the attack and its aftermath on Facebook, and was quoted in the same story. He says that responding officers did not treat the incident as a crime, and that prison guards then used pepper spray on the protesters:
J. Aaron Regunberg, a former state representative and candidate for lieutenant governor, posted one of the videos.
“Tonight, a captain from the Wyatt drove into a line of peaceful protesters,” Regunberg posted on Facebook. “Then prison guards pepper-sprayed us. If they’ll do this to us, think about the violence that immigrant detainees are subject to every day.
“This is why we’re here. No system this violent can be allowed to continue.”
Regunberg said local police at the scene declined to intervene, arrest the driver, or take down witness statements when approached by protesters.
“I also want to make very clear that literally dozens of us from tonight’s protest asked, clamored, demanded that the police take witness statements about the attack, and they actively refused to do so,” Regunberg said.
The chief of the Central Falls Police Department, Col. Daniel J. Barzykowski, said the accusation was false.
Circulating reports on social media about several peaceful protesters hit with a moving vehicle outside a Rhode Island ICE detention facility on the evening of August 14 2019 are accurate. The demonstrations were part of Never Again Action, a Jewish youth organization protesting conditions they liken to those during the Holocaust. Several people were injured, but all survived. A press release issued by the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility on August 15 2019 confirmed that corrections officer Thomas Woodworth was placed on administrative leave following the attack, and Woodworth was referenced by protesters in video footage of the incident.
By the afternoon of August 16 2019, Woodworth had resigned from the facility:
BREAKING: Captain Thomas Woodworth of the Wyatt Detention Center has resigned, after running over #JewsAgainstICE and allies with his truck outside the ICE facility.
This is a first step, but there is only one way to fix Wyatt: shut it down, and release our immigrant neighbors! pic.twitter.com/AthwZHnMj3
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) August 16, 2019