BUFFALO, N.Y. -- What started as a peaceful demonstration protesting last week's raids of four Buffalo-area Mexican restaurants quickly became an act of civil disobedience on Thursday, as eight protesters charged the doors of the federal immigration office.
The group linked arms with plastic chains on their feet. Their goal was to block the entrance and shut down the Delaware Avenue office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"There have been massive raids that have targeted immigrant families, workers, restaurant workers, people are under crisis, children are without their parents and we just want to send a message to the community and the ICE officials," said Carlos Rojas, an activist.
Officers from inside the building asked protesters to move, and when they refused, Buffalo Police Department officers were called to the scene. After warning the group they were breaking the law, protesters remained seated. All eight were then handcuffed, put into police vehicles and taken away.
"If you're going to take our neighbors, our immigrant workers, people from Buffalo, you're going to have to take us too," said Rojas.
All eight were charged with trespassing. It's a necessary price to pay, according to organizers.
"This is not right, so we're going to continue to come to this building elevating our asks, and we want ICE to let everyone free we know there are still some people detained and we want them to be released," said Rojas.
"We feel like we need to elevate our message and we thought this was a way to send a clear message to people at home that immigration is targeting families, they're targeting workers who aren't doing anything wrong," said Rojas.
The raids at Don Tequila on Allen Street, Agave on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, El Agave in Cheektowaga and La Divina in Kenmore resulted in 25 arrests.