NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A group of neighbors and activists gathered in a Tennessee driveway to form a human barrier between ICE officials and a man and his son.
According to a report from USA Today, the situation first began when a white Ford F-150 with two ICE officials that had been patrolling the neighborhood for the past two weeks attempted to pull over a van just after 7 a.m. on Monday.
After the officials attempted to pull over the vehicle, it reportedly pulled into a driveway on Forest Ridge Drive, the Metro Nashville Police Department said in a statement. Inside the van was a man and his pre-teen son. Neighbors said that they had seen the unmarked truck around the neighborhood for a few weeks but didn’t think anything of it until they noticed it lit up with blue and red lights.
As the ICE officials attempted to persuade the man and his 12-year-old son to exit the vehicle, neighbors began to take notice. One neighbor said the officials offered cash rewards and said things like “you’ll have to exit eventually.”
But the father and son remained in the vehicle for more than four hours. Neighbors and activists went to the driveway, created a human barrier between ICE and the vehicle. They reportedly brought sandwiches and water to the pair and even filled up their gas tank so that they could keep the air conditioning running.
USA Today reported that Tristan Call, a volunteer with advocacy group Movements Including X, said several people, including herself, live-streamed the event.
2ND UPDATE: The organizing today happened largely because of local neighbors were supported by dedicated people at Movements Including X – MIX; if anybody wants to donate to help build infrastructure for this kind of work to continue they can send donations to their Venmo at @mixnashvilleUPDATE: people power worked and this dad is still with his family. But ICE is regrouping and we will need to be alert. Sign up and spread this link to the MIX volunteer form of you’re willing to take a stand to defend our neighbors against ICE: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSei3iIIva5zPVDCQEWeMRa6F88QI0D9c3b5jnFhW6E061VFjg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1————-Call David Briley’s office, we need him on scene now. Metro police officers are here in support of an ice operation that has a father and his son hold up in their driveway for the last four hours. Spread the word!
Posted by Tristan Call on Monday, July 22, 2019
As all of this was happening, local police officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department stood back and watched, under instruction not to intervene.
According to reports, the ICE officials who were on the scene called for assistance just after 7 a.m. Monday as they attempted to speak with the man and his son. Though they responded to the neighborhood, the officers at the scene were told not to intervene unless absolutely necessary.
A group of neighbors and activist in Tennessee formed a human wall to block ICE agents from arresting a 12-year-old boy and his father. #TuesdayMotivation #TuesdayThoughts #ICEraids https://t.co/n2lddpnP5B pic.twitter.com/81BvKeOI9o
— Belle (@BellSchmid) July 23, 2019
In one of the live-stream videos, MNPD Sgt. Noah Smith told onlookers that they were only there in case things got out of hand.
“We’re not here to enforce any federal script. … We’re just here if anything major happens,” he said. He said they had no warrants on the two individuals inside the van.
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ICE public information officer Bryan Cox said that they would have appreciated the help, but were given none.
“ICE believes that everyone is safer when federal, state and local agencies collaborate,” Cox said. “When our officers leave for the day, they’re going to particular places looking for particular individuals.”
He noted that in the fiscal year 2018, 90% of people arrested by ICE had either a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, unrelated to immigration status.
After receiving a text about the situation, local councilman Bob Mendes showed up at the scene.
“I haven’t heard much about ICE activity in Nashville over the years, and there’s certainly been a lot of rhetoric out of Washington, D.C., about more ICE enforcement,” he said. “It appeared from Facebook live-streaming that there was a crowd gathering. I thought it would be worth (going).”
Mendes said that Metro police are under instructions not to assist with federal ICE dealings.
“There’s a reason why the city and MNPD have a policy of not participating in civil immigration enforcement. It tends to give people a reason to distrust Metro.”
Eventually the activists formed a human chain around the vehicle, allowing the man and his son to exit the van and get into their home. In order to deescalate the situation, the officers left the scene.
It is unclear whether or not the ICE officials will attempt to contact the man and his son again in the near future.