January 17, 2018
A week after two City Council Members were arrested at an immigration rights rally, they came uptown and held a press event at Holyrood Church, an actual immigrant sanctuary in Washington Heights. The area is represented in the NYC City Council by Ydanis Rodriguez who was arrested at an immigration protest downtown last week along with Council Member Jumaane Williams. Tonight, they both came out to tell their story to a group of community residents, local electeds, and the media.
They were joined by Council Member Mark Levine, MN Borough President Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Tish James, and Attorney Ron Kuby among others. Williams and Rodriguez raised a number of issues relating to their arrests and that of immigration rights activist Ravi Ragbir. Notably, the involvement of a FDNY ambulance was of particular concern. According to Rodriguez, Ragbir neither requested nor required medical aid. His transport to Bellevue was nothing but part of a ruse for ICE to transfer him to a detention center in Florida, he charged.
Kuby noted that, per usual 99% of NYPD officers that morning were courteous, professional and respectful and also, per usual, a few weren’t. Those few, he said, were overly aggressive and employed unnecessary roughness on the nonviolent protesters. What struck Kuby was how, once again per usual, none of the “good cops” restrained or intervened to stop the “bad cops.”
Other speakers pointed to the roundup last week of dozens of 7/11 employees, which they said gave the lie to the Admin’s claims of going after dangerous criminals. PA James called for the charges against the two Council Members to be dismissed in the interest of justice, which she assured the audience is an option for the DA. Others cited a City law prohibiting municipal employees from assisting ICE with an immigrant’s removal, which the use of a FDNY ambulance would violate, and the use of private, for-profit detention centers by ICE to hold immigration detainees.