Scores of protesters constructed a two-story-tall tripod structure in downtown Columbus on Monday morning to protest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, blocking a major street in front of LeVeque Tower where the agency maintains a local office.
One activist bound himself to the base of the tripod, which declared "ICE Ruins Lives Here," while another hung suspended from the top. The demonstration was eventually broken up by Columbus Police, who arrested about a dozen people, a spokesperson said.
Ruben Herrera of the Columbus Sanctuary Collective says protesters want to abolish ICE, and were galvanized by the Trump administration’s previous policy to separate families at the border. Thousands of children remain detained apart from their parents, after a judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite the families.
“That’s why we’re here, all we have is our voice and our bodies, and we’re going to put them to use," Hererra says. "I say all, but it’s a lot, and that’s how we’re going to win this fight.”
In recent weeks, ICE has undertaken several high-profile workplace raids in Ohio, arresting hundreds of undocumented workers.
"We want to make sure that people know that this is not just about immigration rights, it’s about human rights, families being detained and separated and needing to be reunified and ICE needing to be abolished," says Corine Fairbanks from the American Indian Movement.
Jasmine Krouse, a 14-year-old youth organizer, held a sign reading “kids deserve a better life.”
“Kids are being locked up taken away from their parents and it’s not O.K.," Krouse said.
Passersby lined the street, looking a little bemused at the odd structure wooden and hand-painted banners. But many sounded sympathetic to the message.
“I think this is what made America great right here—protests,” said Eric Howard. “I think they have the right to do it, and they should do it. And they should do it. And there should be more people out here.”
Anthony Perez works in a restaurant inside the building, and he came out to the street once he heard the protesters.
“They’re peaceful,” Perez said, “You know, we’re allowed to protest. That’s our right under the constitution. I’m in full support of the protest. The idea that separating children from their mothers as a deterrent for coming in this country is an atrocity, and it shouldn’t be—it just shouldn’t be.”
Police shut down Front Street for about two hours before ultimately clearing protesters from the street. They arrested the protesters bound to the structure as well as another group barricading ICE’s local offices upstairs.
City firefighters used a ladder truck and chainsaws to dismantle the wooden structure.
As police cleared one sidewalk, a scuffle broke out and they arrested two more demonstrators. Police say charges against protesters include disorderly conduct and failure to comply.