A handful of community activists appeared at 80 Main St. in Richmond last week to protest the arrest of illegal immigrant farmworkers. The protesters, appearing on behalf of the Vermont Migrant Solidarity Project of the Vermont Workers' Center, stood in solidarity with the arrested workers to protest the “violation of anti-bias policing, unjust immigration policy.”
Vermont farm worker leader Danilo Lopez and co-worker Antonio said they were racially profiled by Vermont State Police in Middlesex during a traffic stop on Interstate 89. The driver was speeding and three farmworker allies were arrested by a VSP trooper outside the Middesex Barracks.
John McLean, one of the allies arrested said, “We've petitioned our senators, the governor, and even President Obama to fix our broken immigration system. Today, we were left with no other choice but civil disobedience to halt this injustice.”
The protesters stood in front of the Border Patrol Car as the farm workers were being hauled away, attempting to stop the deportation.
Lopez, a migrant farmworker, had recently visited the Vermont State House to talk with Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and the Department of Agriculture to ask the governor to help stop federal programs such as Secure Communities that, he claims, blurs the lines between police and immigration agents.
“Though there was no reason to ask for my documented status,” said Lopez, “they did and only for being a different color from our friend who was driving. We chose to remain silent to not have more problems. He called the Border Patrol quickly. If this message reaches the governor it is so he can see our cruel reality. We spoke with him not too long ago about this ‘polimigra' and we have another meeting that now I will not be able to attend."