As Feds Arrest 40 Immigrants, Protesters Demand De Blasio Take Action to Protect New Yorkers
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that it arrested nearly forty immigrants in the greater New York area over the past week. While ICE claims that the arrests were part of "routine, daily targeted operations," the number represents an uptick in the number of arrests compared to periods of routine enforcement during the Obama administration.
While he has promised to protect New York City's status as a sanctuary city, Mayor Bill de Blasio has maintained his support for cracking down on low-level offenses as part of a Broken Windows policing strategy. Earlier this month, the mayor told state lawmakers that he’d look into expanding the list of 170 offenses in which the NYPD would cooperate with ICE to deport New Yorkers.
Hundreds of protesters rallied in Washington Square Park on Saturday afternoon against the NYPD’s use of Broken Windows policing, which puts New York City’s immigrants directly at risk under President Trump’s executive order seeking to eliminate sanctuary cities.
"We need to draw a line between what is real resistance, and what is a fake resistance," said Karina Garcia, an organizer with the ANSWER coalition. "We want to hold the mayor accountable for not just his nice words, but for his actions. We’ve seen the gap between his nice words and his actions. We need a fundamental shift in policing. We cannot claim to be a sanctuary city when police flood immigrant communities with cops who are racking up summonses and arrests in huge numbers."
The ICE arrests came against the backdrop of increased enforcement nationwide and amid inaccurate rumors of ICE checkpoints throughout the city. President Trump’s Public Safety Executive Order, signed on January 25, emphasizes that ICE should now arrest every undocumented individual who is even charged with a crime or who has engaged in conduct that could be construed as a crime, regardless of whether they have criminal convictions against them. Trump's order also prioritizes for removal green card holders who have prior criminal convictions, no matter how long ago in the past, who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
"We have to be out in the streets every goddamn day until Broken Windows is a thing of a past," said Imani Henry, an organizer at Equality for Flatbush. "They have to know we’re woke and we’re ready."
Saturday's rally, which organizers dubbed, "Here to Stay, No Nos Vamos," featured speakers who repeatedly chastised the mayor for consistently failing to understand that people being arrested are eventually being deported because of policies he himself has put in place.
"If you want to call this city a 'sanctuary city,' it starts with taking power away from the police and bringing it back to the communities," said Milton Trujillo, an organizer with ICE-FREE QUEENS.
After the rally, protesters marched out of Washington Square Park and into Greenwich Village, where they circled the NYPD's 6th Precinct. As the march attempted to cross the street at Hudson and Grove, the NYPD identified five leaders of the march who were not, to this reporter, breaking any laws. One officer tackled a man into a snowbank in the gutter, then held his face in the snow as his hands were zip-tied.
The NYPD tells the Voice that four of those arrested were charged with "crossing against a steady red light" and given summonses, while a fifth person, Walter "Hawk" Newsome, a leader of Black Lives Matter — Greater New York, was charged with "obstructing governmental administration" and "resisting arrest."
As speakers at the rally pointed out, "obstructing government administration" is one of the 170 offenses that the NYPD will cooperate with ICE about under the city’s detainer law.
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