New York police on Tuesday arrested eight clergy members and two community activists who were demonstrating outside a Lower Manhattan immigration detention center against the likely deportation of civic activist Jean Montrevil.
The New Sanctuary Movement, which organized the demonstration and was co-founded by Montrevil, said in a news release those arrested had been “stopping traffic for a half hour to prevent vans (from) transporting new immigrant detainees” to the Varick Federal Detention Facility.
The group said over a hundred people attended the protest. The arrests came after a show of civil disobedience, NSM said. A news report by 1010 WINS radio said the police had given demonstrators a chance to disperse before being detained.
Rev. Donna Schaper of the Judson Memorial Church was among those arrested. According to the press release, she said: “I am being arrested because it is a moral outrage that our government would do this to such a great man and father.
“These immigration laws that destroy families contradict the values we should uphold as a society. They need to change now.”
Montrevil, held at a Pensilvania immigration jail, had started a hunger strike along with other prisoners, his organization said. A Haitian-born U.S. legal resident, he was ordered deported because of a drug conviction for which he served 11 years in prison.
In statements Tuesday to several news media, an ICE spokesman said Montrevil is “an aggravated felon with a significant criminal record who has a final order of removal from an immigration judge” and that he will be deported as part of ICE’s mission.
Singer Dan Zanes performed at Tuesday’s demonstration. City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and State Sen. Tom Duane also attended. According to 1010 WINS, Duane said: “They’re using a stupid, stupid reason to try to deport a valued member of our community. We are not going to let that happen.”
Montrevil’s cause has also received support from U.S. Representatives José Serrano, Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velasquez, N.Y. State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, according to NSM.