Chauncey Alcorn, Daily Mail, July 23, 2019
A group of neighbors and activists in Tennessee formed a human chain Monday after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tried to detain a man who was with his 12-year-old son.
Cellphone video captured the controversial moment that friends and activists joined hands to allow the father and son to escape into their Forest Ridge home in Nashville, Tennessee’s Hermitage neighborhood.
Witnesses said the man and his son, who have not been named, had just pulled into their driveway around 8am Monday, when the ICE officers pulled up behind them.
The immigration officers reportedly had tried to pull the suspected undocumented immigrants over, but the father and son drove back to their home before parking.
A four-hour stand-off ensued as the man and son refused to get out of their van, while the agents allegedly threatened and even offered to pay them to get out.
‘You’ll have to exit eventually,’ an agent reportedly said.
Neighbors told the Tennesseean the ICE agents were driving an unmarked pickup truck that had been seen patrolling the neighborhood for about two weeks.
‘They were saying, “if you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son,” local attorney Daniel Ayoadeyoon told WFTF. ‘That’s just not legal, it’s not the right law.’
Several neighbors and activists started live-streaming the scene on social media while calling for others to aid the suspected undocumented man and his son.
The ICE officers called local police to help them control the scene, but Nashville Mayor David Briley told Fox 17, the city’s officers ‘do not actively participate in immigration enforcement efforts and only serve as peacekeepers.’
‘The officers were at the incident today to keep neighbors safe and secure a perimeter,’ the mayor continued. ‘I am keenly aware that this type of activity by our federal government stokes fear and distrust in our most vulnerable communities, which is why we do not use our local resources to enforce ICE orders.’
The standoff lasted more than four hours during which activists and neighbors arrived to help the father and son. Some brought water, cold rags and sandwiches to the duo, and even filled their gas tank so they could keep the AC running.
‘They don’t bother nobody and this is illegal,’ one bystander said during the encounter.
‘I’ve been knowing these people for 14 years,’ added another neighbor, Felishadae Young. ‘It’s sad to see these children being ripped away from their parents.’
City councilman Bob Mendez showed up during the dramatic scene.
Tristan Call, a volunteer with the progressive advocacy group known as Movements Including X, livestreamed the encounter on Facebook.
‘You came and you’re trying to detain people. I’m trying to understand who you are and why you’re here,’ Call says to the ICE officers during the video.
‘We’re just here doing our job,’ an unidentified officer responds. ‘You can stand there and film all you want to. I don’t have to answer questions to you.’
The ICE agents eventually left the scene, with a spokesman for the agency saying they were attempting to de-escalate the situation.
After they left, a group of at least 10 bystanders linked arms to form the human chain allowing the targeted pair to escape into their home. The activists did the same again later to allow the twosome to enter a car and leave the dwelling.
‘I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not, they’re just trying to provide for their kids,’ neighbor Stacey Farley told reporters after the incident. ‘They work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline, it’s just a community.’
Sanctuary cities are banned in Tennessee under a state law that went into effect on January 1, according to Think Progress, but Nashville police chief Steve Anderson has resisted calls for his department to help round up immigrants, saying doing so would make them fear cooperating with police in the city that has the state’s largest foreign-born population.
‘If there is confusion and apprehension on the part any person as to whether an interaction and cooperation with local authorities might produce a detrimental effect, then the safety of all of our communities is diminished,’ Anderson wrote in a May 2018 letter to former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.