A suspect is in custody after a police car was set on fire during an immigration protest early Sunday morning in Austin, Texas, according to KSAT San Antonio.
It was reported that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation (ICE) has detained at least 50 Mexican immigrants since Thursday, which prompted a protest.
On the evening of Friday, February 10, more than 100 people congregated at an intersection in Austin to protest against ICE, which was launched last week to “capture unauthorized immigrants with criminal records.”
Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Austin, stated that “We regularly have between four and five Mexican nationals detained by ICE every day as a standard operating procedure. Mexican Consulate officials go every day to the ICE detention center and, on Thursday, we realized that it was not the four or five we regularly see, it was about 14,”
“Not all of them are the targeted individuals that ICE were looking for. Many of them, a significant number of them, were Mexican nationals who happened to be in the wrong time in the wrong place and because they are undocumented, they end up being caught in this net.”
The immigration protest was going peacefully. Austin residents stood on the street holding up their signs in a bid to send a message to ICE, informing them that what they are doing is tearing families apart.
Resident Susan VanHaitsma held up a sign that read, “Don’t separate families” and on the opposite side, it said, “Immigrants built Austin.”
“I think immigrants have made Austin, Texas, the U.S. what it is with very valuable labor, and it seems to me very two-faced to be accepting the labor, then deporting the laborers.”
Another resident Sherri Roldan, 23, – whose parents are immigrants – attended the immigration protest to show support.
“They’re all just trying to take care of their families, make ends meet, and a lot of them have a dream, a lot of their kids have dreams, and taking them away from their families, that’s saddening,” said Roldan.
However, the protest took a violent turn when an unidentified man began damaging an unoccupied police car, which was parked near an intersection at N. Lamar Boulevard and Rundberg Lane, around 3 a.m. on Sunday, February 12.
The suspect smashed the cruiser’s rear window and afterward, threw a lit firework into the police car, setting it on fire before fleeing the scene as a passenger in another vehicle.
Austin police officials witnessed the incident and followed the vehicle.
When the vehicle pulled over, the suspect ran on foot but was later captured by police.
Police arrested the suspect on charges of evading arrest. The man is not being charged for setting the police car on fire, but that may change after police officials conduct an investigation.
However, that wasn’t the only incident that transpired that day. According to a witness, who is only being identified as Luis, he “was actually heading home, Rundberg area, I was at a red light, saw the protesters, my light turned green, all those people started getting in front of me, blocking my way when I had a green light.”
“I mean I got kicked in the face. I almost lost consciousness, had to get four stitches outside my cheek, one inside.”
“I was actually scared for my life,” Luis continued. “Because I believe families should stay together. I’m not against all that. Families should have to stay together, so I was actually with them and then this happened the next day,”
“Why are we doing this? Why are we attacking people? That’s making the Hispanic community look real bad because there are a lot of good families out there.”
[Featured Image by Darren Hauck/Getty Images]