The letter comes almost two weeks after the detainees launched a hunger strike in protest of the unsanitary conditions inside the facility. The hunger strike ended after three days due to increasing retaliation against the hunger strikers, such as cutting off phone access and placing people in isolation.
“It is critical that people detained at Wyatt are released, considering the tragedy that happened in 2008 when Hiu Lui Ng passed away while detained at the Wyatt due to medical neglect,” says Arely Diaz of the Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance. “Ng’s life could have been saved if ICE had prioritized the health and safety of those in detention, and many lives can be saved now. It is impossible for people to practice proper sanitation and social distancing protocols while detained and it is only a matter of time before COVID-19 starts spreading throughout the facility..”
The full version of the letter is included below.
The Wyatt Detention Facility is a publicly-owned, privately operated facility that contracts with the Department of Homeland Security to imprison immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The facility has a long history of abuse and medical neglect. As reported by the New York Times, detainees have been complaining of hunger and inadequate medical treatment for over a decade.
Sentence about covid deaths/infections in other facilities
A diverse coalition of local and national activist groups, including Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance and the FANG Collective, has been staging consistent protests at the facility over the past year, garnering widespread national news coverage.
Transcript of Wyatt letter:
To whom it may concern
This is on behalf of 60 detainees in I.C.E. DETENTION at Wyatt detention center at 950 High st, Central Falls, RI. Our suffering is imense, some people who came from prison or were convicted, We believe that They had already paid the debt to the justice system and We are still being punished by the fact that We do not have legal documentation in this Country.
We believe that the majority of the detainee are hard worker that by misfortune end up here, but I.C.E. treats everyone as criminal or dangerous to the society, in which is not true.
On April 4, 2020, all 60 detainees started a hunger strike against I.C.E., that ended up on April 7, 2020 because We were and still are scared of the COVID-19 virus from spreading inside this facility.
The I.C.E. agents came to talk to make us sure that everything was OK, but the truth is that They can not guarantee our safety if one of us get infected, everyone will be infected.
Despite all new detainees or inmates who come from outside is monitored and have a medical check up, it will not keep us from being infected if someone carries that mortal virus.
We are afraid of what could happen to our lives, the death toll in this Country is scaring, the infected people is multiplying That virus is not a joke and We are not secure locked up here.
Our lives is in danger, also there are people in a sensitive health condition in this facility.
We are aware of the social distance that everyone must obey in order to curb the virus from spreading, but in the conditions that We are now, We are not able to meet that order, by the fact that We are detained in a place that does not allow us to keep the minimum 6 feet required by the government and We are not allowed by this circumstance to obey the law.
We all ask to whom it may concern to take action before We get infected, before is too late. We all have families and They are suffering for us too, because We are the most vulnerable for being locked up, no where to go to isolate ourselves, if one gets sick, everyone will get sick.
SO PLEASE, HELP US.