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2018-01-18 / Front Page


Williams And Rodriguez Busted At Protest Rally
By D. Rybstein

Facebook photo The recent detentions of NYC’s New Sanctuary Coalition’s leaders, by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), has set off protests around the country - some coinciding with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebrations this past Monday.

At a Thursday, January 11th protest on lower Broadway in Manhattan, NYC Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez were arrested for blocking the movement of an ambulance. Rodriguez’ charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration resulted in him being held for arraignment, while Williams was released with a desk appearance ticket.

“Freedom. Resist. Freedom. Resist. We are going to resist,” Williams repeated during his arrest.

New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) is an immigrants’ rights organization, that, until recently, was run by well-known activists Ravi Ragbir - its executive director - and Jean Montrevil. NSC fights the federal government in the courts and media, seeking to stall and prevent immigrant deportations.

According to The Village Voice, Montrevil was picked up near his home in Far Rockaway, Queens on January 3rd by ICE agents and sent to a Miami area detention center called Krome, where he is awaiting deportation to Haiti.

Ragbir was detained during his annual immigration check-in with the Feds at 26 Federal Plaza. Both men have arrest records, having committed crimes after arriving in the U.S. Montrevil was busted for selling cocaine in 1990 and Ragbir spent time in the slammer for wire fraud after being convicted in 2001. He was working at a mortgage company at the time.

With the new Trump administration guidelines directing ICE to get tough with immigrants that have committed crimes in America, both men know they are living on borrowed time in America. The previous Obama administration was lenient on immigrants when it came to deportation, unless they were found guilty of violent crimes.

Ragbir, who is very popular in the immigrant activist community, was accompanied by supporters to his recent hearing. They came armed with cameras to take video of protests. Demonstrations were sure to erupt and a large police presence was on hand to maintain order or make arrests if needed.

Ragbir supposedly fainted shortly after being taken into ICE custody, and it was his ambulance that was blocked by protestors when it set out for a nearby hospital with him inside. Eighteen people were arrested, most with desk appearance tickets.

Ragbir, who is originally from Trinidad, was also shipped off to Krome. Although his prior deportation stay expires Friday, January 19th, his lawyers secured a hearing to get him returned to New York. He has another hearing at the end of January to determine if ICE agents acted properly to begin with when he was detained early.

In a Facebook post, Williams stated: “Ravi Ragbir is an extraordinary man, beloved in his community and dedicated to fighting for immigrant rights. Today, after more than two decades of living in this country, he was detained by ICE and removed in an ambulance. I was arrested while protesting his detention, alongside Ydanis Rodriguez and several of Ravi’s supporters. We need your voices to declare, ‘I stand with Ravi.’”

Williams is no stranger to handcuffs. He was arrested in 2011 at the popular West Indian Day Parade for entering a restricted area. At the time, Williams claimed his arrest was race-based.

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