One Cuban migrant was hospitalized and several others reported being sickened after they inhaled pepper spray that was used by police to help quell a disturbance at Bodden Town’s community center Tuesday.
About 40 Cuban migrants are being temporarily kept at the center under 24-7 guard because the Immigration Detention Centre in George Town is at capacity and law enforcement officials have nowhere else to house them.
According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, officers were called to the center around noon after security guards reported a disturbance that they were unable to control.
It was reported that one of the migrants told center guards that his shoes had been stolen by another migrant staying at the civic center. The migrant who reported the theft was then set upon by several other migrants at the center, police said.
When officers arrived, they found the man who reported the theft in a dispute with several other men, one of whom appeared to have a piece of metal in his hand.
Police officers used pepper spray on the man with the metal piece in his hand after officers said he refused to drop it. The man who was pepper-sprayed was taken to hospital for observation.
At least three other migrants who inhaled the pepper spray were treated on scene by ambulance personnel. Police said only one person was transported to hospital.
Police have responded to a few disturbances at the center since it began providing housing for the migrants this year.
Compass journalists Brent Fuller and Jewel Levy contributed to this report.