NEW YORK — Two city councilmen were among more than a dozen people arrested at a Thursday rally for an immigration rights activist who'd been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Council members Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) were out in support of Ravi Ragbir, an undocumented immigrant and executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, during their arrest. Sixteen other people were taken into custody.
Ragbir was detained by ICE during a routine check-in with officials.
“They are retaliating against people who dare to say this is a bad system, and Ravi dared to say this is a bad system,” Ragbir’s wife Amy Gottlieb said.
He was removed in an ambulance after his detention by ICE, according to Williams.
Many of the people arrested were trying to block the ambulance from taking Ragbir away. More than 100 activists and politicians were at the rally.
Rodriguez accused the NYPD of putting him into a chokehold during his arrest.
"This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights," a staffer tweeted on his behalf. "This is NOT what democracy looks like."
The area is covered extensively by cameras the NYPD will be reviewing surveillance footage to determine what exactly happened, officials said.
New Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also at the rally. He called the actions of NYPD officers and ICE agents "aggressive" and "inappropriate."
Ragbir will remain in custody and be removed to Trinidad, an ICE spokesperson said.
"Over the last 12 years, Mr. Ragbir’s immigration case has undergone extensive judicial review at multiple levels of the nation’s judicial system, including both immigration courts and federal appeals courts," the spokesperson said. "He has since exhausted his petitions and appeals through the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the U.S. District Court."
Ragbir's attorney, Alina Das, noted that immigration officials have always had the discretion to do this, but the administration change has contributed to the ICE activity.
"Even though politics are different now, it’s in everyone’s interest for people like Ravi to be here in our communities," Das said.
Williams, after he was released from custody, said that Ragbir improves New York.
“Our orange man in the White House claims that he’s getting rid of violent murders and rapists and things of that nature. But he’s not," Williams said. "He’s getting rid of the Ravi Ragbirs of the world who are making our city better."