Berkeley: ICE agents arrest one person as part of criminal investigation

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BERKELEY (BCN) -- A small group of roughly 10 activists gathered near Berkeley's old City Hall building late this afternoon in protest of an operation conducted Friday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in which at least one person was taken into custody.

ICE officials said one person was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE that investigates criminal offenses, but activists with By Any Means Necessary said there may have been as many as three detained -- and ICE has faced recent criticism for misleading public officials and members of the media as well as the general public.

Similar statements were made by the Oakland Police Department when they assisted ICE in raiding a home in West Oakland in Aug. 2017 in connection with an alleged human trafficking case. No criminal charges were filed as a result of that operation, but one individual was placed into "removal proceedings," the term ICE uses for the process by which undocumented immigrants are deported.

The incident prompted the Oakland City Council to double down on the town's sanctuary city status, prohibiting the police department from assisting ICE in any way, including traffic control -- and ultimately led to an official complaint against Chief Anne Kirkpatrick for her role in approving that assistance.

The name of the person or people arrested in Berkeley this morning have not been disclosed, nor have the specific time and location of the ICE operation, but it appears to have taken place just south of the downtown area, according to BAMN.

"They did it in a neighborhood that was right near the UC campus," group spokeswoman Yvette Felarca said. "But also just blocks away from Berkeley High School, too. 

"We're out here today because we want to inform and warn the community that ICE was here, and that they've been terrorizing and have arrested immigrants in our community," Felarca said.

BAMN is building a "don't walk on by" defense campaign to help people effectively alert the public about ICE raids taking place in their communities by verifying that the law enforcement agents at the scene do in fact work for ICE, rather than another local or federal agency, and taking a picture that clearly depicts the officers' vehicles, agency insignias and uniforms if applicable. That evidence, along with the specific time and location at which the picture was taken, can then be forwarded to BAMN at or by calling (510) 817-2617.

"Stop, don't walk on by," Felarca said. "Use your voice, start to yell, start a chant, get everyone who can to come join you.

"If we can get enough people, if they actually do try to arrest or kidnap anyone, then we're urging everybody to unite together and find whatever ways that you can to impede ICE's ability to take that person away," Felarca said.

Specifically, Felarca suggested blocking the path of any vehicle being used to transport individuals that ICE has detained. 

Felarca has emerged as a controversial figure in the anti-facist movement after a series of occasionally violent encounters at alt-right rallies in Berkeley and elsewhere in Northern California. She currently has assault charges pending in Sacramento County, but has not yet entered a plea and has filed a motion to have those charges dropped. 

Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 20.