Above photo: The FANG Collective.
Invesco is the major investor in the Wyatt Detention Facility.
And the key player in keeping the for-profit prison operating in Rhode Island.
Yesterday afternoon people interrupted and disrupted Invesco‘s annual shareholders’ meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Invesco responded by dragging them out of the meeting. A crowd rallied outside of the shareholders’ meeting calling for Invesco to end their investments in the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island. The protest ended with four people being arrested.
The Wyatt has faced controversy and ongoing protests after signing a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2019, allowing the Wyatt to detain people on behalf of the agency. After this contract was signed, widespread community opposition led the board overseeing the Wyatt to cancel the agreement with ICE. Yet the investors of the facility, led by Invesco, successfully sued the city of Central Falls, forcing the contract to be reinstated.
“I am taking action today to demand that they drop the lawsuit against the city of Central Falls, and that they divest from the Wyatt Detention Center,” said June, one of the people who disrupted the meeting. “I am here to cancel their meeting, and to tell them to their faces that they are perpetrators of evil.”
The Wyatt, which describes itself as the first publicly owned and privately operated prison in the United States, has a long track record of human rights violations and abuses. In 2008, the Wyatt’s original contract with ICE was terminated after Hiu Lui Ng, who was detained at the facility, died after his symptoms of liver cancer went ignored. In 2020 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit calling for all people detained by ICE at the facility to be released, citing unsanitary conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Invesco is profiting off of a dehumanizing system that takes advantage of a broken immigration system and imprisons people for profit,” said Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR) in a statement. “We want to see the Wyatt Detention Center shut down as soon as possible so that our community can begin to heal.”
The Wyatt received national media attention in 2019 after a prison guard drove his truck through a group of protestors. Moments later other guards pepper sprayed the group. The incident led to many Rhode Island elected officials, including State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, to call for the facility to be shut down. Activists claim that the detention center is only still in operation due to investors such as Invesco.
“The people of Central Falls deserve to feel safe in their home without the threat of ICE detention,” said AMOR in a statement. “The City of Central Falls came together, and voted to shut the prison down, but Invesco and other investors refused to let this happen. And today, three years later, the Wyatt remains standing as a parasite in the community.”
The protest was organized by AMOR and The FANG Collective, two community organizing and direct action organizations that have been working to close down the Wyatt Detention Center since 2019. In addition to detaining people for ICE, the Wyatt also detains people for the United States Marshals Service.