Eighteen people, including two members of the city council, were arrested on Thursday in New York City when police clashed with demonstrators protesting the forcible deportation of an immigrant rights activist.
Protesters, including Councilmen Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), blocked the ambulance's path. At the time, his lawyer, Alina Das, said Ragbir would have to go back in a month to try to secure a travel document.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told reporters during a press conference later on Thursday that several protesters, including himself, were "suddenly and without warning or provocation shoved and pushed".
Among those arrested were Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was seen being bent over the hood of a auto and grimacing in pain as he was handcuffed in video shot by Buzzfeed, and whose suit jacket was torn in the encounter; and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose account tweeted a photograph of an officer in front of him with both arms around Ydanis' neck, while the councilman's hands were pulled behind him by another officer.
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!" In March, Ragbir told Gothamist's Jake Offenhartz that he was just a low-level employee following the bank's own rules when he was charged.
"Ravi Ragbir is an extraordinary man, beloved in his community and dedicated to fighting for immigrant rights", Jumaane wrote in a Facebook post.
"We've been told that he will be processed and taken to a detention facility, they will not tell us where".
ICE officials issued Ragbir a stay of removal in 2011, which has been renewed since. From an undocumented immigrant to a Nobel Prize victor, here's how immigration affects people.
When an ambulance arrived to transport him to a local hospital protesters gathered around the vehicle. "He will remain in custody pending removal to Trinidad".
In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said that over the last 12 years, Ragbir's immigration case "has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation's judicial system, including both immigration courts and federal appeals courts". "In each review, the courts have uniformly held that Mr. Ragbir does not have a legal basis to remain in the U.S.", she wrote in an email.
In a statement late Thursday, an ICE spokeswoman said Ragbir had "exhausted" his petitions and appeals and would be deported. His attorneys are seeking to have that conviction vacated and, separately, plan to challenge the legality of the deportation order based on that conviction.
Many people were reportedly already gathered outside of 26 Federal Plaza for the planned vigil - sponsored by organizations including the Center for Constitutional Rights, Immigrant Defense Project, Make the Road New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union and more - meant to show support for those New Yorkers checking in with ICE officers today. That isn't to say that that's what happened here, but just to say that we know there are some ways in which the NYPD enables ICE to continue raids and targeting undocumented folks.
"Ravi is an acclaimed community leader, a loving father, and a steadfast immigrant rights activist. Ravi must be released immediately", said Crowley.