NEW YORK, NY: New York County Criminal Court,
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing an emergency medical vehicle stemming from the January 11 protest of the detention and imminent deportation of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir.
Williams appeared before a judge today alongside sixteen other protesters who were arrested with the Council Member for their roles in the protest. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who was also arrested during the protest, had his own court appearance at the end of February and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation rather than a crime. The other protesters accepted an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) in the courtroom, while informing the court of their intention to continue to protest actions they find unjust.
Council Member Williams pleaded not guilty, maintaining that his actions were in opposition to the immoral deportation of Ravi Ragbir. The arrest and detention of Ragbir was later ruled unconstitutional byJudge Kathleen Forrest, who compared ICE’s actions to “regimes we revile as unjust; regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice…and sent away.” Ravi’s removal has currently been scheduled for May 11th, pending adjudications in multiple items of federal litigation pertaining to his removal order and ICE’s retaliation against him.
After his appearance, the Council Member joined his fellow protesters and Ragbir himself to speak out about the importance not only of elevating Ravi’s case and the circumstances surrounding it, but also the cases of immigrants across the nation who have not received the same level national attention. He intends to continue to raise issues of immigrant rights, deportation, ICE abuses, and sanctuary cities throughout the legal process.
In addressing the court, attorney Rhiya Trivedi said, in part “On January 11, 2018, at 26 Federal Plaza, not 6 blocks from where we stand today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nationally recognized immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir…These 17 individuals, among countless others, recognized what was happening to Ravi, for the grave injustice and illegality that is was. And so they stood up.”
The Council Member is set to next appear at court on May 8th.
“I am proud today to stand with Ravi Ragbir and all immigrants under threat, as I stood with them in protest on January 11th. Today, we as advocates were joined by our friend, Ravi Ragbir. If we had not protested his immoral detention and deportation, this would not have been possible. Those of us with a public position and voice have a moral obligation to defend communities who are disadvantaged and attacked.” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “My legal process will take place out in the open, a right that is often denied to immigrants who face immoral deportations. ICE operates in darkness. It is my hope that my case will shed light on ICE practices, the plight of immigrants who are being targeted by the Trump administration, and how we can be a sanctuary city and state. As voices across the city have risen to defend and support Ravi, we should not criminalize actions of protest taken in his defense.”
“I stand with my friend and colleague Jumaane Williams as he boldly moves forward with taking his case to trial. The fight for immigrant rights and their dignity did not end the day we were arrested in January. It continues every day. We will continue to raise our voices for immigrants, lift up their contributions to this country, and resist the denial of the long history of immigration that has shaped the United States,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
Photo: Council Member Williams and immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir speak to the assembled press following the court appearance. (Photo Credit: Kevin Fagan)