The two men detained last week after a traffic stop escalated into an immigration-policy protest have been released from the custody of federal immigration authorities.
They appeared Tuesday at a news conference held at Southside Presbyterian Church, a congregation with a long history of immigration-related activism.
The driver, Agustin Reyes, and his passenger, Arturo Robles, thanked activists for their support during the protest and the letter-writing and petition-signing campaigns that followed.
The news conference was organized to celebrate the men’s release and highlight the negative impact of immigration enforcement on families.
Activists from Corazón de Tucson and Southside Worker Center say they raised $1,500 for each man’s bail. They reiterated their demands that Tucson Police Department change its vehicle impound and immigration-related policies.
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Two women detained by the Border Patrol during the confrontation but not involved in the traffic stop — Rosa Leal and Mari Galup — also have been released.
Federal officials were unavailable to comment because of the partial government shutdown.
Meanwhile, TPD released its first written account of its response to the spontaneous protest, which ended with the use of pepper spray and pepper balls shot at activists’ feet.
The documents show that the traffic stop, which led to a citation for an unlighted license plate, almost didn’t happen. Officer Fabian Valdez noticed that the license plate of a 1999 Ford van was improperly lighted while he was driving near East 22nd Street and Herbert Avenue, according to his account. The car then turned into a private housing parking lot before he was able to pull it over. He waited for “several minutes,” then decided to resume his patrol duties. But as he prepared to leave, the vehicle turned out in front of him, Valdez wrote. He followed the van to West 22nd Street and South 10th Avenue and pulled it over near Southside Presbyterian Church.
Reyes and Robles were unable to provide identification and refused to answer the officer’s further questions, so Valdez contacted Border Patrol to investigate their immigration status.
Soon, more than 100 protesters surrounded them.
Contact reporter Carli Brosseau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197. On Twitter: @carlibrosseau