Christine Stuart photo
Alok Bhatt tells a Hartford police officer he is willing to be arrested (Christine Stuart photo)

Immigration activists caught the Hartford Police Department by surprise Monday when they unfurled a bright orange banner across Main Street in Hartford around 4 p.m. and shut down traffic for about 45 minutes.

Nine of the protestors — Camila Bortolleto, Gabby Rodriguez, Renato Muguerza, Mark Colville, Erik Munoz, Alok Bhatt, John Jairo Lugo, Stefan Keller, and Lucas Codognolla — were eventually arrested.

Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said the police were aware the protestors were going to be outside the federal building in Hartford, but they didn’t know their members planned to get arrested. A handful of police were on hand for the beginning of the protest and their numbers swelled as they realized the protesters weren’t going to leave.

Foley said they will be charged with disorderly conduct and given their history “will most likely be given a promise-to-appear.”

Foley said they won’t be checking their immigration status.

Muguerza, who was one of the nine arrested, said he was participating in civil disobedience today because “our community has been ignored for far too long and the time has come to disrupt public spaces to show that we are not going away.”

Christine Stuart photo
Mark Colville, a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker community in New Haven, about to get arrested (Christine Stuart photo)

More than a hundred supporters stood on the sidewalk and continued to chant with the nine and cheered as police arrested them.

Police borrowed the group’s megaphone to announce they would begin arresting protesters if they refused to move to the sidewalk.

Codognolla, who was also arrested, said he was blocking the street for the tens of thousands of people here in Connecticut whose freedom has been blocked by the Supreme Court’s split decision.

“I take action against the criminalization of immigrant communities of color, against this police state that terrorizes our communities, breaks up families, and deports people to their death,” Codognolla said.

The activists chanted, “Down, down with deportation. Up, up with liberation.”

“If ICE is going to be out in the streets than we will be on the streets too,” Lugo of New Haven said. “Our organization has won municipal IDs, in-state tuition, and driver’s licenses, and we won’t stop until all our immigrant sisters and brothers are freed from prison and freed from deportation.”

The Main Street protest that started at 3:30 p.m. outside the federal building, which houses the U.S. Immigration Court, was organized by several immigrant rights organizations to demand a moratorium on deportations following last week’s Supreme Court decision.

The decision allows states to block Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration.

The court’s action means there are reportedly about 4 million undocumented immigrants who are now in limbo. Under the Obama administration’s plan they would have been reprieved from deportation because they have a child who is a citizen, they haven’t committed any serious crimes, and have been here since 2010.