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L.A. councilman among arrestees at protest over splitting families at border

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin was among more than a dozen people arrested Monday after blocking an entrance to a downtown detention center in protest over families being split up at the southern border.

“It is inconceivable and unforgivable that our country, our government, in our name, is ripping children from their mothers’ arms, is putting children in baby jails, is putting family in internment camps, and is refusing and failing to reunite” them, said Bonin, who represents coastal neighborhoods including Venice, Mar Vista and Pacific Palisades.

“We need, by the millions, to be coming out and blocking the entrance to federal detention centers,” Bonin told the crowd. “We need by the millions to be surrounding the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and the White House.”

More than a dozen protesters, including Bonin, linked arms and sat cross-legged in front of a driveway before police cuffed them one by one. Dozens of others cheered and chanted from the nearby sidewalks, hoisting banners that urged, “Abolish ICE” and “Families belong together.”

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Protest organizers with the activist groups People Organized for Westside Renewal and Ground Game L.A. said they targeted the Alameda Street facility because it is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Eighteen people were arrested for failing to disperse, said LAPD Capt. Patricia Sandoval. Police blocked off the street to traffic for more than an hour during the Monday morning protest.

Other arrestees included Rabbi Jonathan Klein, executive director of the group Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice; Robert Strong, a psychologist who made headlines last year after leaving a festively wrapped box of manure outside the home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin; and Jenny Hontz, a Westchester communications professional who identified herself as a “typical American soccer mom.”

The councilman was detained for roughly two hours Monday before being released with a notice to appear in court, according to his spokesman David Graham-Caso. The charge was Los Angeles Municipal Code 80.02: failing to comply with a lawful order from police. Before the demonstration began, Bonin said he had never been arrested before.

“If this administration doesn’t stop kidnapping and jailing children, I expect it won’t be the last,” the councilman said.

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Thousands of children have been separated from their parents or guardians under the “zero tolerance” immigration policies of President Trump. The president issued an executive order last month to end the practice of splitting up families, but few have been reunited. Hundreds of rallies were held across the country Saturday in protest.

In federal court filings, Trump administration officials have indicated that they now plan to hold parents and children together in indefinite detention as they wait for their court dates.

Many protesters denounced that idea at the Monday demonstration. One held up a sign that said, “Trading family separation for family prisons is not a solution.”

emily.alpert@latimes.com

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Twitter: @AlpertReyes


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