In a brilliant display of humanity, a group of activists and neighbors in Tennessee prevented ICE from arresting a father-son duo by forming a human chain.
Linking hands with hands, the group helped the distressed father and his 12-year-old son in escaping the agents and entering their Forest Ridge home in Nashville’s Hermitage neighborhood.
According to witnesses, officials of the ICE approached the father and son when they were going out of their home at around 8 am.
However, the pair didn’t come out of their van, despite the threats from the agents, in a stand-off which reportedly continued for more than four hours.
‘You’ll have to exit eventually,’ an agent told them.
Local attorney Daniel Ayoadeyoon told WFTF: ‘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.”
‘That’s just not legal, it’s not the right law,’ Ayoadeyoon added.
Several people began live-streaming the incident on Facebook, calling other neighbors to come and defend the immigrant father and son.
The agents requested cops to intervene, but according to Nashville’s Mayor David Briley, the police can’t ‘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,’ Briley told Fox 17.
‘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 neighbors brought water, sandwiches and cold rags to the pair to help them make it through the stand-off. Some activists even filled the duo’s gas tank to make sure their vehicle’s AC keeps running.
‘They don’t bother nobody and this is illegal,’ a neighbor told the agents during the stand-off.
Another neighbor, Felishadae Young, added: ‘I’ve been knowing these people for 14 years. It’s sad to see these children being ripped away from their parents.’
The encounter was live-streamed on Facebook by Tristan Call, an activist with the progressive advocacy group Movements Including X.
‘You came and you’re trying to detain people. I’m trying to understand who you are and why you’re here,’ Call said to the agents in the video.
‘We’re just here doing our job,’ one of the officers replied. ‘You can stand there and film all you want to. I don’t have to answer questions to you.’
After the stand-off, the agents left the neighborhood in what ICE says was a de-escalation attempt.
It was when a group of 10 people formed a human chain by linking their arms to help the pair enter their home. The gesture was repeated after some time to help the duo leave their home in a car.
‘I could see if these people were bad criminals, but they’re not, they’re just trying to provide for their kids. They work every day, they come home, the kids jump on their trampoline, it’s just a community,’ neighbor Stacey Farley told a local media outlet after the incident.
According to Think Progress, sanctuary cities have been banned in Tennessee under a law which came to life this year.
Nashville police, however, has resisted calls to help round up undocumented immigrants, as the city’s police chief Steve Anderson said it would refrain them from cooperating with police in a state which has got the largest foreign-born population in the US.
In a letter sent to former Tennessee Governer Bill Haslam last year, the police chief noted: ‘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.’