News of activist’s detention leads to NYC supporter arrests

NEW YORK (AP) – New York City police on Thursday arrested 18 people, including two councilmen, in protests over the detention of a prominent immigration activist.

The demonstrations outside a federal building in Manhattan were over the detention of Ravi Ragbir, a citizen of Trinidad who has been fighting deportation after a fraud conviction.

His lawyer, Alina Das, said Ragbir was handcuffed during a scheduled check-in with immigration officials.

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rachael Yong Yow, said Ragbir will remain in custody until he is deported to Trinidad.

“In an exercise of discretion, the agency had previously allowed him to remain free from custody with periodic check-ins, while his case was under court review,” Yong Yow said. “He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the US District Court.”

A protester holds a sign demanding the release of detained Ravi Ragbir, a prominent immigration activist on January 11. – AP

Police arrested demonstrators who blocked an ambulance, thinking Ragbir was inside. City Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, both Democrats, were among those arrested.

Police said Rodriguez and Williams were arrested on charges of obstruction of emergency medical service, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. Rodriguez also was arrested for resisting arrest.

Rodriguez posted a picture of his arrest on Twitter and wrote, “This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights.”

Williams sent out a statement after he was released, calling Ragbir’s detention a “tragic injustice”.

“I will continue to work alongside dedicated activists, advocates, and elected officials to resist the destructive incompetence and malicious bigotry of the Trump administration,” Williams said.