ICE Agents Back Down After Neighbors Form Human Wall To Protect Family In Nashville Suburb

An ICE agent at the scene of an arrest.
John Moore / Getty Images

Residents in a suburban Nashville neighborhood held hands and formed a human wall to protect a family as two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers tried to arrest them, ultimately driving the agents away in an episode that is getting national attention.

The incident took place on Monday morning in Hermitage, a town outside of Nashville. As the Tennessean reported, more than 10 neighbors linked arms to form a human wall around the family’s van, protecting them from the agents and eventually creating a pathway for the man and his 12-year-old son to enter their home.

There has been much controversy surrounding the planned ICE raids that had been announced by Donald Trump in his administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Trump said the raids will target a number of major cities, but there has been considerable pushback by those who accuse ICE of intimidating tactics.

In Nashville, a white pickup truck was seen in the neighborhood for more than a day. On Monday morning, the truck flashed emergency lights and pulled over a van with a father and his son, telling them to exit the van. As activists have noted, ICE agents are able to detain people suspected of being in the United States illegally but cannot enter a person’s home or car in order to detain them. Several activists and politicians have spread guides informing people of their rights, noting that ICE agents carry something called administrative warrants, which are not signed by a judge and do not allow them to enter someone’s property.

In the Nashville incident, the father and son remained inside their van and out of reach of the ICE agents, attracting the attention of others in the neighborhood.

“Once they learned [what was going on], they worked to bring water, cold rags and sandwiches to the man and his son, and filled their gas tank so they could keep the AC running in the car,” the report from the Tennessean noted. “The corner of two streets where the van sat soon became filled with activists, council members and media. Tristan Call, a volunteer with advocacy group Movements Including X, said several people, including herself, live-streamed the event.”

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Daniel Ayoadeyoon, a local lawyer who came to the scene to help, said that the ICE agents were threatening to arrest both the man and the 12-year-old boy if they didn’t leave the car.

“That’s just not legal,” Ayoadeyoon told News Channel 5 Nashville. “It’s not the right law.”