A group of neighbours have formed a human chain around their neighbour's van to help protect him and his 12-year-old son from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who were about to take him into custody.
The incident, which was captured in a Facebook Live video, showed the neighbours surrounding the van in which the man and his son had locked themselves, resulting in an hours-long standoff. ICE agents, who were driving white pickup trucks, blocked the car in order to take the man into custody.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Stacey Farley, a neighbour and human chain member, said:
We just wrapped our arms around and formed a chain and dared someone to break through it.
Speaking to CBS-affiliate WTVF-TV, neighbour Felishadae Young added:
We made sure they had water, they had food, we put gas back in the vehicle when they were getting low just to make sure they were OK.
As well as food and water, the neighbours also gave the father and son wet rags to combat the heat, as well as refilling their gas tank repeatedly so that they could keep their air conditioning on, reports Buzzfeed News.
Video of the ordeal was shared to Facebook by Nashville Noticias, an organisation that provides news and information to the Hispanic community in the Nashville area, reports CBS. The video quickly went viral, with nearly 700,000 views.
According to Nashville Scene, the ICE agents did not come with a warrant signed by a judge, meaning they didn't have the authority to forcibly enter the man's home or car. Speaking to the publication, they said:
They were here with an administrative order that they wrote themselves.
There’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause. It doesn’t give them the authority to break down a door like you would with a normal warrant.
They didn’t try to do that. But they still lied to the individuals inside and to people on the scene about, ‘No, this does give us that authority.
During the ordeal, a local lawyer was also contacted, and they came to the scene. Speaking to CBS, Daniel Ayoadeyoon said:
There were two immigration officials sort of bullying a family inside of their own vehicle, telling them that they had an administrative warrant, which isn't the same thing as a judicial warrant, and trying to harass them and fear them into coming out.
They were saying, if you don't come out, we're going to arrest you, we're going to arrest your 12-year-old son, and that's just not legal, it's not the right law.
In a statement to WTV, ICE said:
No at-large ICE arrests happened today in Nashville. That said, in general, ICE conducts targeted enforcement of federal immigration law on a daily basis in accordance with our routine, ongoing operations.
ICE continues to focus its enforcement efforts on criminal offenders as nearly 90 percent of persons arrested for violation of federal immigration law during the past year also had either a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge.
ICE does not conduct any type of random or indiscriminate enforcement that would encounter persons indiscriminately.
Metro Nashville Police also released a statement to WTFV-TV, saying:
An ICE representative telephoned the Emergency Communications Center at 7:19 a.m. He relayed that ICE attempted to stop a white Ford van, the driver would not stop, but did proceed to a driveway on Forest Ridge Drive.
The caller said the driver was sitting in the van and was not getting out. He requested the police department's assistance, but did not specify what he wanted the police department to do.
When the police arrived, they learned that ICE was attempting to serve a detainer only on the individual. The man was sitting in the van with a 12-year-old boy.
The officers were instructed to not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary. ICE ultimately left while the man was still in the van. The police left accordingly.
In a statement, Nashville Mayor David Briley said that it's his duty to keep the community safe, reports Buzzfeed:
Our police officers do not actively participate in immigration enforcement efforts and only serve as peacekeepers.
The officers were at the incident today to keep neighbours safe and secure a perimeter.
I am keenly aware that this type of activity by our federal government stokes fear and distrust in our most vulnerable communities, which is why we do not use our local resources to enforce ICE orders.