Councilmen arrested at Foley Square protest decry use of force

Two city councilmen arrested during a Manhattan protest over the detention of an immigrant rights leader by ICE agents last week held a rally on Wednesday to demand answers from the city on the NYPD’s tactics.

Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Ydanis Rodriguez were joined by several elected officials – including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Tish James – at the rally for New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City executive director Ravi Ragbir inside Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights Wednesday evening.

“What happened last Thursday should not have happened,”Rodriguez told the crowd of about 100 people before defending himself against claims he was arrested as a publicity stunt. “This is not about one individual. This is about the movement by the right wing...they don’t want us.”

Ragbir’s arrest during a routine check-in with ICE in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Jan. 11, sparked multiple protests, one of which led to the arrests of Williams, Rodriguez and 16 other people. Ragbir was taken to Miami the day after he was arrested, but was expected to return to the New York area and remain in ICE detention until a lawsuit challenging his detainment is resolved, his lawyer Alina Das said on Wednesday.

Rodriguez and Williams were arrested at Thursday’s protest when they blocked an ambulance that was transporting Ragbir.

The NYPD was reviewing video of officer’s interactions with Rodriguez, who accused an officer of putting him in a chokehold.

At an unrelated event in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the investigation would look at the actions of each officer, but added that “the police did the best they could.”

“This was a very challenging situation with a lot of unexpected factors, and I think it deserves a full investigation,” he said. “I’m always concerned when I see a situation that people feel uncomfortable with.”

Rodriguez will be joined by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Public Advocate Letitia James and other politicians at Wednesday’s rally, according to the press release.


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