Sixteen protesters were arrested Tuesday afternoon during a rally protesting against the recent increase of mass deportations of Central American undocumented immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide.
The protesters specifically targeted newly appointed San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessey, who has hinted at altering how deportations are handled in the City since she was elected, according to Kitzia Esteva, a member of the grassroots organization Causa Justa/Just Cause.
“We want to make sure that no matter what her intentions are, that no one group is scapegoated and that there is zero collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE,” Esteva said.
The protest converged at Sansome and Washington streets in the Financial district, where a group of more than 60 people from different immigration rights groups took over the intersection while chanting messages in Spanish like “United in the fight, they will not move us,” and “Without papers, without fear.”
Police issued a dispersal order just before noon, asking protesters to move out of the intersection. Ten of the protesters who were chained together at the center of the intersection were arrested shortly afterward.
The second series of arrests took place at the nearby intersection of Sansome and Jackson streets in the Financial District.
Hector Jimenez Carreno was part of the second group of protesters, six in total, who were arrested by police.
Jimenez Carreno said he was taking a stand as someone who has “personally experienced the life of being undocumented.”
“I understand that there are others like me,” Jimenez Carreno said. “I am doing this for them, not just for me.”
Those at the rally also called on local and national leaders, including President Barack Obama, to reform how deportations and ICE raids are conducted across the country.
Many of the protesters urged legislators to consider the conditions of the Central American countries that immigrants are fleeing from.
“Most people are coming here because they are being kicked out of their countries,” said Michael Bass from the School of the Americas Watch. “We should be opening our doors to them.”
The issue of immigration reform and sanctuary cities was thrown into the spotlight last July after Kathryn Steinle was allegedly shot by an undocumented immigrant at Pier 14.