Police arrested 35 demonstrators Thursday in downtown Los Angeles during a protest over recent actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, officials said.
The demonstrators were cited for refusing to comply with police commands after blocking the entry into the Metropolitan Detention Center at 535 Alameda St., said Officer Irma Mota, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. They were later released.
Clergy members and civil rights activists were among those arrested in the march, according to Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, an interfaith and workers’ rights organization.
Organizers called the protest “An Interfaith Day of Prophetic Action” and said it was inspired by religious events this Holy Week and enforcement actions by federal authorities.
“ICE is an active danger to members of our community — both our community at All Saints Church and our wider communities of Los Angeles, California and the nation,” the Rev. Mike Kinman, who was arrested, said in a statement. “Its targeting of people for deportation is based on race and class. It splits up families, has communities living in fear and exacerbates the already shrinking trust between communities of color and police and government authorities.”
The demonstration started Thursday morning at La Plaza United Methodist Church at La Placita Olvera.
From there, protesters marched along Los Angeles Street, holding signs and chanting, “Immigrants are welcomed here.”
They called for the release of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, who was arrested in February by ICE after dropping his daughter off at her Lincoln Heights school. ICE officials said the arrest was routine, citing a 2014 order for Avelica-Gonzalez’s deportation.
As clergy members sang and strummed on guitars, demonstrators sat in a circle in the street. They were eventually lifted up by officers and placed into a detention van.
Later, clergy members released statements about their arrests.
“I know that I will be released soon after my arrest. Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s fate is not the same as mine: he is still being detained and his future is uncertain,” David Bocarsly, who was one of those arrested, said in a statement. “I chose to get arrested while observing the Passover rituals to serve as a reminder that, until we are all free, we are none of us free.”
The Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen said she felt compelled to march because her friend was recently picked up by ICE.
“His partner not only has to figure out how to live without his income, but now has to try to comfort their three children, one of whom is marking the calendar with an X for each day her daddy is gone,” she said.