The prominent labor leader and activist for immigration reform, Eliseo Medina, said Saturday that his arrest the day before was excessive despite having been warned on various occasions by a Doral police officer to leave the building that houses the office of U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.
Medina, 68, born in Mexico, was arrested Friday for trespassing on private property without violence and resisting police orders to abandon the place, according to the arrest order.
“We tried to explain to the police officer that our intention was to deliver a letter at the congressman’s office, which is a public office, a letter asking a stronger support to immigration reform,” Medina said, “but apparently (he) did not want to listen.”
Doral police deputy Joe Seiglie, however, said Medina was the one who didn’t want to listen, for Medina was asked repeatedly to leave the office located at 8669 NW 36th St.
“The congressman’s office is located in a building that is private property,” Seiglie said. “We have written orders signed by the owners granting us authority for any police action in the place.”
Shortly before being arrested, Medina had been part of a press conference with Democratic members of Congress Nancy Pelosi, of California, and Joe García, of Florida.
Medina then went with about 20 activists to the office of Díaz-Balart, a Republican who supports immigration reform. Once there, the building’s private security stopped the group from entering and later two patrols of the Doral police arrived.
“We told the police we wanted to deliver the letter and when they denied us access we asked them to at least allow us to tape the letter to the door of the building, but they wouldn’t let us,” said Medina, leader of Fasting for the Family, a national campaign that pushes for immigration reform in the country. “The police were intransigent. All they said was, ‘You want to go to jail’ or to leave the place. A little while later I was cuffed.”
Medina was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where he was released almost 10 hours later, shortly after 10:30 p.m.
Medina said Saturday afternoon that Doral Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz and Doral Mayor Luigi Boria invited him and other activists to an Italian restaurant. Boria did not respond El Nuevo Herald’s calls for comments. Ruiz lamented the incident.
“I don’t have details about the arrest, but I am disconcerted over what happened and I apologized to him,” Ruiz said. “We’re clearly a community that supports any activity in favor of human rights. Medina is a humble man with a legendary vision that impacts us.”