HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) — People in Hermitage formed a human chain on Monday to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from taking a man into custody.
It all started around 7 a.m. and lasted for hours in the area of Valley and Forest Ridge drives.
Neighbors told News 2 the man and his 12-year-old son were in a van in their driveway when an ICE vehicle blocked them.
The family refused to get out of the van as neighbors stepped in to help, bringing them gas for the van, food and water. They also eventually formed a human chain so the man and his son could get inside their home.
News 2 spoke to witnesses and an attorney at the scene.
“We formed a human chain, and they went into the house, and they’re safe now,” said neighbor Felishadae Young. “We were going to hold it down as long as the police were here. We were going to be out here just as long.”
ICE ultimately left without the man.
“This is amazing,” said attorney and witness Daniel Ayoadeyoon. “More than half of the people who showed up were just neighbors who wanted to help their neighbor out.”
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition mobilized on the scene Monday morning. They also sent out an alert explaining your rights if ICE shows up to detain you — specifically, that you don’t have to open the door if ICE knocks unless they have a judicial warrant.
“Neighbors can help by making sure that they also understand people’s rights,” Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus the Policy Director at TIRCC told News 2. “When ICE says they have a warrant, you have to look very closely at the paper — which is often signed by an ICE agent [and] does not constitute as a warrant unless a judge signs it. It is not legally binding.”
Sherman-Nikolaus went on to say that they are deeply troubled that local police were assisting ICE in this operation.
Metro police sent the following statement:
“An ICE representative telephoned the Emergency Communications Center at 7:19 a.m. He relayed that ICE attempted to stop a white Ford van, the driver would not stop but did proceed to a driveway on Forest Ridge Drive. The caller said the driver was sitting in the van and was not getting out. He requested the police department’s assistance, but did not specify what he wanted the police department to do. When the police arrived, they learned that ICE was attempting to serve a detainer only on the individual. The man was sitting in the van with a 12-year-old boy.
The officers were instructed to not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary. ICE ultimately left while the man was still in the van. The police left accordingly.”— Metro Nashville Police Dept.
TIRCC says they will continue to work to make sure everyone knows their rights and that our communities are organized to defend their neighborhoods.