On April 13th, 2017, at least 35 protesters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles. According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the demonstrators were protesting the harsh immigration enforcement actions that have been taken by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in the early days of the Trump Administration.
Among those arrested were religious officials, including clergy members, civil rights activists and workers’ rights activists. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) stated the arrests occurred because of the alleged failure to comply with police officer instructions, and that all protesters were later released from custody.
The ICE Arrest an Immigrant Father at a Los Angeles County School
There have been many disturbing trends for immigrant rights in the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency; there has been a sharp increase in ICE raids, and immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have been increasingly turning down their entitled government assistance out of fear of deportation. The recent ICE protests referenced all of these issues, and it also centered on one of the most disturbing anecdotes from the Los Angeles area: an immigrant father being arrested while dropping his young daughter off at a local school.
KTLA 5 reported that Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was taken into custody by ICE officials, as he was about to drive away from his daughter’s charter school. The disheartening incident was caught on cell phone, by the child. Mr. Avelica-Gonzalez has lived in the United States for more than 25 years. As was pointed out in a public statement by the United Teachers Los Angeles, this type of draconian enforcement disrupts the education of children, damages local families and hurts the whole community.
How to Exercise Your Right to Protest Without Getting Arrested
Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, all individuals have a right to peacefully assemble and engage in public protest. However, this right is not without some limitations. Indeed, certain protest actions could lead to your arrest. Sadly, in today’s climate, many police departments are being overly aggressive, arresting protesters without just cause.
If you are protesting ICE raids, it is critical that you understand how to do so without getting into trouble. This is particularly important if you are an immigrant, especially an undocumented immigrant, as an arrest could lead to serious trouble, and may even lead to deportation action against you. Please consider the following four important tips to avoid a protest-related arrest:
- Never engage in violence: Not only will violence undermine your message, but it could lead to serious criminal charges.
- Do not destroy property: Destruction of property, public or private, may trigger an aggressive response from the police, and may lead to arrests.
- Be very careful when blocking public spaces: Large protests often block off city streets and sidewalks. This is an acceptable practice, but there are limits. When the police officers at the scene instruct you to leave the area, please do so. If you stay, you will risk arrest.
- Call a lawyer: Finally, if you have been arrested while protesting, please call an attorney immediately. As was mentioned, the police have been arrested many protesters without necessarily have good cause.
We Support Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles
At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud to support the political rights of immigrants and their families in Southern California. If you or a loved one has been arrested at an immigration protest or detained in an ICE raid, we can help. Please call our Los Angeles office at (213) 262-2000 for immediate legal assistance.