CHARLOTTE, N.C. Ten undocumented immigrants were arrested Tuesday afternoon after sitting down in an uptown intersection and refusing police orders to disperse.
The activists are part of the “Undocubus,” a group of about 50 undocumented immigrants traveling from Phoenix to Charlotte to argue for immigration reform during the Democratic National Convention.
“We are demanding from the President to stop the deportations and separation of families,” said Gerardo Torres, of Chicago. He said he was not afraid of arrest, “Because I have the support of my community.”
Since Mecklenburg County participates in the federal 287 (g) program, which screens all arrestees for immigration status, all those arrested Tuesday stand the chance of being deported. They said they were prepared to risk that to make their voices heard.
“This planned act of civil disobedience did not result in any injuries to the public or officers. Those arrested were charged with Impeding Traffic,” CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said in an email.
Those arrested sat down in the intersection of 5th and College streets, one block from the convention site at Time Warner Cable Arena, as delegates arrived to go through a nearby security checkpoint. They chanted, through heavy rain, “Undocumented and unafraid,” partially blocking the intersection as police watched. The group also chanted, “Obama, listen, we’re in this fight,” in Spanish, holding signs that said “Undocumented” over their heads.
Although Obama has stayed deportations for many young immigrants in the country illegally, the recent federal exemption doesn’t apply to all, and those over 30 are not covered.
After about 30 minutes, police told them to disperse. “You are impeding traffic. I’m instructing you, you need to leave this intersection,” said CMPD Major Dale Greene.
A second, then a third, warning to leave because they were impeding traffic came about 10 minutes later.
In Spanish, the immigrants chanted, “We will not be moved.”
Police began lead them away to waiting prisoner transport vans at about 5:10 p.m. Actress Rosario Dawson, who had been at a nearby forum on immigration, walked over and showed her support of the marchers by chanting slogans with them and waving an “undocumented” sign.
Torres was arrested last. He held his left hand up in a fist as he was led away, and the crowd chanted “Yes we can,” in Spanish.