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    Archive for November, 2013
    Immigration-reform rally arrestees released from jail print Comments 177

    A table loaded with Florida squash, pumpkins, eggplant and tomatoes stood in the middle of a downtown Orlando street Tuesday, surrounded by immigration protesters holding hands as they sat on the pavement.

    From the nearby sidewalks, about 200 people chanted and waved signs while Orlando police officers tried to persuade the seated protesters to move. When that failed, they arrested the 15 people.

    Rollins College student Colette McLeod, 24, was among those cheering as the protesters were handcuffed and, in some cases, carried to a police van for a trip to jail.

    “Immigration reform doesn’t just affect the Latino or Hispanic community,” McLeod said. “It affects our [whole] community. Immigration reform isn’t just their responsibility. It’s all of our duty to get passed.”

    The protest, sponsored by Mi Familia Vota, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Young American Dreamers, United Here and other social-justice and union groups, was an effort to get the attention of U.S. House SpeakerJohn Boehner, R-Ohio, and force a vote on immigration reform, said Natalia Jaramillo, a spokeswoman for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

    Photos: Orange County jail mug shots


    Demonstrators demanded that Boehner and his Republican colleagues in Florida and elsewhere allow the vote and create a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

    “Every day they don’t vote is another day families are torn apart, that another family is deported,” said Eric Clinton, president of the Central Florida AFL-CIO. “That’s not theUnited States of America.”

    The protest began with a rally in front of the Orange County Regional History Center, continued with a half-mile march and ended at Hughey Avenue and Washington Street near the federal bankruptcy courthouse and Florida A&M University College of Law.

    The crowd ranged from a toddler in a stroller waving an American flag to 87-year-old Mary Gregory, a retired post-office worker who made the trip from her home in Homosassa in Citrus County.

    “Nobody has swallowed a morsel of food that they haven’t picked or planted, and we don’t appreciate them,” Gregory said. “We treat them terribly.”

    As the protesters marched west in two groups, one on each side of Central Boulevard, they chanted, “This is what democracy looks like” and “Obama, escucha. Estamos en la lucha.” (Obama, listen. We are in the struggle.)

    Some played makeshift drums and waved signs that read, “Say yes to citizenship,” “Who would Jesus deport?” and “Stop tearing families apart.”

    The loud chanting attracted the attention of students at the law school, who stood on the corner watching and taking pictures and video on cellphones.

    Student Keisha Robinson, 28, said she applauded the protesters.

    “Sometimes you have to stand or sit for something you believe in,” Robinson said. “This conversation needs to happen.”

    The arrests came the same day that 10 people were arrested in New York as they blocked traffic in front of a detention center to protest the blocking of a vote on immigration reform, the New York Immigration Coalition said.

    Tirso Moreno, 60, general coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, was one of those arrested in Orlando. His wife and daughter said they were proud of his commitment to immigration reform.

    “It’s what he lives for,” said daughter Maria Calderon, 35, of Kissimmee. “It’s what he does.”

    As those arrested were taken away, the crowd shouted, “We love you” and “We are proud of you.”

    Some of the protesters held a candlelight vigil at the Orange County Jail on Tuesday night as they waited for their friends to be released on bail.

    By mid-morning Wednesday, all 15 people had been released,

    Immigration advocates arrested in downtown Orlando

    Supporters of immigration reform held a rally and march in downtown Orlando. Demonstrators were on hand at the Orange County Courthouse to push Republican lawmakers to stop delaying a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Watch Video