Police arrested ten undocumented activists following an action to shut down an intersection nearby the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. The arrestees were all passengers on the Undocubus, part of the “No Papers, No Fear” tour that set out from Arizona in July.
Multiple media outlets have remarked on the overwhelming police presence at the protest. The AP reports that “hundreds” of officers “swooped in to surround” the protesters, ultimately waiting around forty minutes before taking action.
Among those arrested was Rosi Carrasco, a Chicago woman whom the group identified as an illegal immigrant first brought to the United States as a child. A married mother, she said she wanted to set an example for her two daughters by protesting the mass deportation of illegal immigrants.
“It was my children that taught me that making change requires taking risks and the status quo of mass deportation constitutes a human rights crisis we can no longer tolerate,” she said in a written statement issued by the group. The statement claimed that President Barack Obama “has deported more people than anyone else in U.S. history.”
“We want him to be on the right side of history.”
The Village Voice’s Nick Pinto tweeted last night that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent has been assigned in the Undocubus arrests, but the “outcome won’t be clear until morning.”
President Obama has overseen more deportations than his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, an official policy that belies the message of inclusion and acceptance presented within the DNC venue, featuring a plethora of prominent Latino speakers. Contradicting the Obama administration’s framing of national unity are the nearly 1.5 million undocumented immigrants who have been forcefully deported on Janet Napolitano’s watch.
In total, fourteen people were arrested following the action as part of what the AP described as “the most vigorous day of protests since both parties began meeting to formally nominate their presidential candidates.” The march kicked off when half a dozen Vietnam veterans protesting for better medical care and other issues began an unauthorized march that was quickly joined by members of the Occupy movement.
Other demonstrators reportedly got into shouting matches with delegates. Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted that delegates at one point shouted at protesters, “Go to the free speech area!”
Despite the tense environment, there have been no reports of violence or significant damage during the protests.
Over the weekend, police arrested a prominent Charlotte activist for a traffic violation and then sought to keep him in jail during the DNC because an officer said he is on a terrorist watch list, the Charlotte Observer reports.
James Ian Tyson’s bail was originally set at $10,000, an unusually high amount for the minor charge of driving with a revoked license. Chief District Judge Lisa Bell later reduced the bond to $2,500, and Tyson was released at about 8 pm on Monday.
Tyson’s attorney, Derek Fletcher, believes officers wanted to keep Tyson in jail to restrict his speech.
“The state wanted to keep my client in jail during the DNC so he couldn’t help organize any protests,” Fletcher told the Observer. “I informed the judge it appeared to me that the state was trying to suppress my client from exercising his rights to speak during the DNC.”
Bell said she approved the high bond “based on alarming information” the magistrate received when Tyson arrested, but that “alarming information” was never presented during Tyson’s first appearance hearing.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer requested Tyson be held in jail because of the DNC, and the officer recommended that Tyson not get out of jail on pretrial release.
“Why do you feel suspect is a risk?” the law enforcement information sheet asked.
“Known activist + protester who is currently on a terrorist watchlist,” the officer wrote. “Request he be held due to DNC being a National Special Security Event.”
A “National Special Security Event” involves numerous agencies coordinating resources to monitor a special event like the DNC. The agencies working at the Multi-Agency Communication Center in Charlotte include: the US Secret Service, the US Department of Homeland Security, the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, the White House Military Office, the US Capitol Police, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Marshals Service and the US Postal Inspection Service.
Tyson is a Charlotte activist, a volunteer with the Rainforest Action Network, and has spoken at Occupy Charlotte events.
North Carolina criminal records show Tyson was found guilty of fishing trout water in closed season in 2007 and fined $145. Last May, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. Tyson was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and paid $293 in fines and court costs.
In 2011, there were around 400,000 names on the government’s consolidated terrorist watch list, according to the government, and a 2009 audit found the FBI’s terrorist watch list has a high error rate, with many people wrongly kept on the roster and many others kept on the list too long, the Observer reports.
The inclusion of his name on the watch list stunned Tyson, who told the Observer, “I’m a local Charlottean, I’m a farmer, I’m a carpenter, I’m a family member and a community member. I am not a terrorist.”
“They have no reason to have me on that list,” Tyson said. “I haven’t done anything remotely criminal involving politics.”
“No one knows how you get on this list … or the accountability process or, most importantly, how they get off this list.”