Police: Protesters arrested for blocking Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police on Wednesday arrested demonstrators who blocked the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to protest the federal immigration crackdown.

Immigration protesters blocking off the intersection of Randolph and Jefferson to raise awareness about the presidential administration’s child detention policies.

"There was a group of ... people who were protesting (the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and deportations," Craig said. "They were blocking incoming and outgoing traffic from Canada at the tunnel.

"They were warned three times they'd be arrested if they didn't move; they said they weren't leaving and submitted to arrest," the top cop said. "They were all arrested without incident."

Craig said 22 people — 11 men and 11 woman — were arrested and charged with failing to follow a police officer's order, a misdemeanor.

The arrests happened about 5:30 p.m., a few hours before the second Democratic presidential debate at the Fox Theatre.

While about 20 protesters sat along Randolph Street, blocking the tunnel's exit and backing up traffic, dozens more stood in front of the Old Mariners' Church. Dozens of Detroit police officers directed traffic at the intersection of Jefferson and Randolph while coordinating the removal of the protesters.

Demonstrators near the church chanted "No Justice, No Peace, No (expletive) Police" and cheered as officers police arrested those blocking the tunnel exit.

The group "Movimiento Cosecha" said in a press release that its members planned to block the tunnel. A spokeswoman for the group confirmed its members had been arrested.

"Immigrants and allies blocked traffic at the Windsor Tunnel, an international crossing between Detroit and Canada, demanding 2020 hopefuls recognize the daily crisis of family separation and deportation that immigrants in Detroit are facing," the release said. "The protesters called on Democratic candidates to commit to ending all deportations on their first day in office."

Nelly Fuentes, a group spokeswoman, said the presence of border patrol officials near the Canadian border has made the situation difficult for undocumented immigrants in Metro Detroit.

"Our folks live in Southwest Detroit, right near the (Ambassador) Bridge, so border patrol is in our communities all the time," she said.

Fuentes said she thought the disturbance and protest was a success.

"We had folks listen to our message. We have folks actually looking at us."

Detroit teacher and protester Therese Yglesias said the Trump administration's policy of family separation is un-American.

"This is more than just a protest. This is standing up for human rights.This is standing up for the treatment of our immigrants at the border," she said. "Certainly children shouldn't be caged, families shouldn't be separated, siblings shouldn't be separated."

Wednesday's arrests followed a lone arrest on Tuesday during the first night of Democratic debates, Craig said.

"A person was disrupting a protest with an ATV-type vehicle,” he said.


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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN