LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Several protesters from Occupy ICE were arrested early Thursday afternoon after they blocked the entrance and elevators that lead to Louisville's Immigration Court for several hours.
That's inside the Heyburn Building at 332 W. Broadway.
LMPD would not allow WDRB crews inside the building, saying it is a private building that isn't open to the public.
Locking arms to form a human chain, protesters blocked access to the elevators, effectively delaying court proceedings. Protesters posted a video of their demonstration on Facebook.
A heavy police presence was outside the building, with nearly 20 LMPD transport vehicles showing up around 9 a.m. A WDRB source inside the building said police started taking people into custody just before noon.
Before the protesters could be removed, the fire department had to be called in to cut "rainbow casts" off the arms of the protesters. The casts were used to keep everyone linked together.
Occupy ICE says Thursday's protest was a continuation of its mission to abolish ICE.
According to an Instagram post on the group's website, the courtroom on the 11th floor is "complicit in the terrorization of immigrant families."
The post noted that the protesters risk "certain arrest."
One person was upset after police stopped her from entering the Heyburn building for a medical appointment.
"Whatever's going on down here, it needs to be stopped," she said. "Because I really am a sick person, and I need to get my medical, get my attention that I need. We need to get into this building to get the help we can get. But we cannot get no help because these people are out here."
Thursday's protest came one week after members of the group cleared out of an encampment that was set up on the sidewalk on July 2. It's also the same day of a court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunite families separated at the US-Mexico border.
That's the reason the group chose to take action, as several other Occupy ICE groups across the country protest as well.
Jesus Ibanez with a group called Mijente Louisville and a spokesperson for Occupy ICE, explained the purpose of the protest.
"People are unaware that that is an immigration court, and that's on a daily basis where deportations are happening," Ibanez said. "The orders are being handed down here for families to be deported, families to be separated, and for lives to be destroyed."
Ibanez said the protesters come from diverse backgrounds, with individuals from many different groups and organizations.
"This truly is an intersectional movement," he said. "We have people of different faith leaders, from Muslim to Christian. Folks that identify as LGBTQ, we have black individuals there as well, so it's a very intersectional movement."
Ibanez said he was assaulted as officials cleared the building.
"DHS actually assaulted me," he said. "They kept pushing me and pushing me so someone could get inside the elevators. I told them to stop and they just said profanity and said they didn't care. I witnessed them assault a news reporter as well while they were kicking everybody out. They're not letting any legal observers in there as well."
Ibanez has a strong message for city leaders.
“Shame on the Mayor, shame on Police Chief Conrad," Ibanez said. "Stop saying that you’re a compassionate city when you’re not. This is not what compassion looks like.”
An LMPD spokesman said the nine protesters will face federal charges. The names of the nine protesters who were arrested are as follows:
- Robert Eiden
- David Horvath
- Carla Wallace
- Rebecca Bernstein
- Kelly McCall
- Sonja Devries
- Clara Ruplinger
- Courtney Kearney
- Dawn Cooley
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