BK council member arrested during immigration rights rally


Police and immigrant-rights protesters clashed Thursday outside 26 Federal Plaza, New York City's immigration court, after word spread that Ravi Ragbir, a well-known activist known to protect immigrant families from deportation, had himself been detained by immigration authorities inside the building.

A Brooklyn council member was among 18 arrested during a protest against the detention of an immigration rights activist Thursday.

Rodriguez posted a picture of his arrest on Twitter and wrote, "This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights". The NYPD did not confirm the arrests to Observer. "Two of my colleagues, as I mentioned upstairs, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, were arrested".

"I do know that I saw a photo where Councilman Rodriguez was placed in a headlock", Johnson continued.

"I was shoved and I was not obstructing anyone, I was not blocking anyone, I was not resisting in any way".

Protesters were taken into custody Thursday by police outside a federal building in Manhattan where activist Ravi Ragbir was detained by officials and told he will be deported.

Eighteen people were arrested during the protest, Buzzfeed reported.

The sudden arrest of the Trinidadian-born migrant, whose legal status - like many migrants - has been in a state of limbo for nearly ten years, sparked demonstrations outside the Manhattan federal building where he is being held. "We will not be intimidated". "We can't call ourselves progressives and pro-immigrants when the NYPD is doing chokehold to us", said Rodriguez after his arrest.

Rachael Long Yow, a spokeswoman for ICE, told Observer that ICE officers were not with the protesters and that only Federal Protective Service and NYPD were present.

Video footage showed Williams being forcibly taken off the street and thrown against the hood of a auto before being handcuffed. In another video taken by BuzzFeed, Williams is heard yelling, "Freedom, resist". "We continue to pursue our options - the legal challenges - to see that he will hopefully be freed soon and back with his wife and with the community that loves him". Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman said the mayor has been briefed on the protest, adding, "the area is covered extensively by cameras and we'll be reviewing the footage to get to the bottom of what happened".

He declined to comment further when asked by Observer for an update.

"It appears the police were clearing a path for an ambulance with a patient that was en route to a hospital", an NYPD spokesperson said. "The NYPD was attempting to clear a path for that ambulance, which was purposely and repeatedly being blocked".

Ragbir legally immigrated to the U.S.in 1991 from Trinidad and Tobago and received permanent residence status a few years later.

In 2011, Ragbir was offered a stay of removal which was renewed ever since.

His stay of removal was in effect until next week, according to New Sanctuary Coalition NYC.

The judge, Katherine B. Forrest, ordered Mr. Ragbir to be detained in the NY area so that he could be near his lawyer and family.

"He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the U.S. District Court", Yow said in a statement. ICE justified its decision and said he will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad.

"Ravi Ragbir means everything to this city", said New Sanctuary Coalition Co-Chair Rev. Kaji Dousa.

Mahfuzur Rahman, a student at City College of NY, said, "We know with Ravi, their entire accusation is based on a conviction from 20 years ago, which he served and since then he's been an excellent citizen-he's a better citizen than me!"