Brooklyn’s immigrant communities are on high alert after a group of plainclothes law enforcement officers, who local watchdogs believe are tied to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, attempted to raid two apartments in Fort Greene and Red Hook early Wednesday morning.
“Building residents swear that they identified themselves as ICE,” said Jorge Muñiz-Reyes, whose group Sunset Park ICE Watch has kept tabs on federal immigration agents ever since they went on an enforcement blitz in the borough in summer 2019.
Surveillance video shows five officers outside a Fort Greene apartment complex near Park and Carlton avenues on Oct. 7 around 6:30 am, banging on the building’s doors and windows. One of the men on video is cloaked in an NYPD jacket, while at least one other dons the words “Police” on his back.
The activist noted that officers didn’t take anyone into custody and that, while it wasn’t clear that ICE was behind the incident, the federal agency routinely chooses to show up early in the morning.
He added that the incident’s 88th Precinct had Department of Homeland Security agents standing outside their Classon Avenue station house during the George Floyd protests in June.
“We are federal agents, we are part of the Department of Homeland Security, and we’re here to, you know, give a hand to the NYPD”
Very troubling video from 88th Pct in BK tonight , from “Andy,” who acknowledges that some of the agents on site are involved in immigrant detention. pic.twitter.com/5qjlRZTisS
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) June 8, 2020
Then, around 6:50 am, six officers reportedly tried to get into a family apartment near Red Hook’s Public School 15, according to a Wednesday advisory sent out by Lisha Luo Cai, a community liaison of local Councilman Carlos Menchaca.
The group of agents, some of them wearing jackets with the words “Police” and “ICE” on them, apparently tried to get into an apartment of an immigrant family, the legislator’s staffer Cesar Varga told this newspaper, without revealing the exact address in an effort to protect residents.
Children were alone in the apartment at the time and they answered the door. The officers started questioning them and tried to make their way in, but backed off and left after a neighbor, who is also a lawyer, came out and asked them to get out, according to lawmaker’s reps.
There were also no arrests at this incident, according to Sunset Park District Leader Julio Peña, who tweeted information about knowing one’s rights when confronted by the agency and urged his followers to stay vigilant.
📢 🚨ATTN #REDHOOK – there was a reported ICE Raid in Red Hook early this morning near PS 15. Plain clothes officers entered a building, however, no one was arrested. Please stay vigilant. pic.twitter.com/tbqZLTrWBB
— Julio Peña III 胡立歐 佩纳 🇵🇷🏳️🌈 (@Julio_PenaBK) October 7, 2020
In addition to documenting incidents of potential ICE raids, immigration advocates like Peña and Muñiz-Reyes have also encouraged the borough’s immigration population to seek out information from advocacy groups like the ACLU to learn more about their rights.
The councilman’s office and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Immigrant Affairs sent volunteers and staff out to the affected areas Thursday to educate people about their rights, according to Vargas, who said that President Donald Trump was deploying the federal enforcers to boost his reelection campaign.
“We do know that this administration is deploying ICE units, especially during the elections,” Vargas said.
NYPD spokeswoman Sergeant Mary Frances O’Donnell said in an email that a perimeter search of both locations did not yield any reports of police raids during that time, but opined that the incidents could have been the Warrant Squad looking for someone.
DHS did not return a request for comment.