Obama’s uncle arrested on suspicion of DUI; White House not commenting


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When President Obama’s 67-year-old uncle was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving last week, he reportedly asked to make a telephone call -- to the White House. He is now being held without bail on an immigration detainer.

Onyango Obama, 67, of Framingham, Mass., was arrested Aug. 24 shortly after 7 p.m. after he allegedly rolled through a stop sign and then nearly collided with an unmarked vehicle being driven by a police officer.


Obama’s immigration status is not immediately clear. The Boston Herald is reporting that the president’s uncle has a Social Security card and a Massachusetts driver’s license.

But immigration holds are typically used on people who are caught in the U.S. illegally. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a court document that said that Obama had an earlier deportation or removal order, according to the Associated Press.

Cleveland immigration attorney Margaret Wong will represent Obama. A spokesman for the attorney confirmed that the detainee is the half brother of the president’s father and the brother of another relative, the president’s aunt Zeituni Onyango, of Boston.

Zeituni Onyango was in the news years ago when she was found to be living in the U.S. illegally, residing in public housing in Boston. A judge originally denied her request for asylum, but that was later overturned, and last year she was placed on a path to legal residency and ultimately citizenship.

Onyango Obama is believed to be the ‘Uncle Omar’ that President Obama references in his memoir, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ an uncle who left Kenya years ago and never returned.

Here’s how the scene unfolded, according to the statement released to The Times by the Framingham Mass., police:


Officer Val Krishtal initially stopped Obama, who was driving a white Mitsubishi SUV, for failing to yield to oncoming traffic at the intersection of South and Waverly streets in Framingham. The officer noticed that Obama had ‘red and glassy eyes, slurred speech, and strong odor of alcohol and appeared unsteady on his feet.’

Krishtal said Obama became argumentative. ‘The male would not allow me to speak and continued to interrupt me.... I explained to him that I narrowly avoided striking his vehicle, and he told me that he did not hear my tires screeching, so I was not being accurate. While he spoke with me, he kept leaning away from me.’

Obama first denied drinking anything, then told police he had two beers. His blood-alcohol reportedly measured 0.14%, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08%.

He was taken into custody, then held without bail on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer. When asked whether he wanted to make a phone call, he said, ‘I think I will call the White House.’

There are plenty of details to be uncovered, such as whether Obama actually called the White House. Everyone seems to be tight-lipped at this time. We’ve called the White House for comment and have requested interviews with Wong and with immigration officials in New England. We’ll update this post if we hear back from any of the parties.

But one potential avenue for details can probably be ruled out. The Framington, Mass., police log shows that Onyango Obama was arrested on Waverly Street and makes mention of the Chicken Bone Saloon. A call to the Chicken Bone Saloon to speak to a manager was answered by a man who told The Times, ‘We have zero comment’ and then hung up.



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--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch