LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The protesters that shut down parts of the Heyburn Building during a demonstration against Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July 2018 were back in Downtown Louisville Thursday.
Last year, Occupy ICE protesters linked arms and blocked the elevators that led to the ICE office on a higher floor. Thursday morning, 20 people stood on the stairs of the Hall of Justice as three of the “Heyburn 9” faced their own criminal charges.
“ICE was invented and formed as part of the Department of Homeland Security,” David Horvath of Occupy ICE Louisville said. “We did well before that with border protection and we can continue to do that in a humane way.”
The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002 following the terror attacks of 9/11.
In the weeks leading up to last summer’s Heyburn protest, crowds camped on the streets outside of the ICE office. That was until police got involved and started to clear them out. The increased police presence during the demonstrations and the protest cost the city around $1 million - most in unplanned overtime.
Those leading the cause said it’s worth it.
“I’m not sure if we had an impact but our job really is just to plant a seed,” demonstrator Robert Eiden said.
Eider was one of the nine who blocked the elevator at the Heyburn building. Their efforts stopped immigration court for a day.
“It’s not only our right to protest inhumane policies - it’s our responsibility and it’s necessary,” demonstrator Sonja DeVries said.
DeVries and Eider are two of three people arrested who pleaded not guilty. Now they’ll face trial.
“This is our way of continuing the conversation about this issue," DeVries said. "Things have not gotten better. ICE is still very active and deportations are happening in mass. People are being terrorized.”
The Mayor’s Office provided a statement saying in part, "These types of large-scale protests do cause a drain on police resources. Mayor Fischer has always supported people’s constitutional right to protest, while complying with the law.”
Eider stands proudly by his decision to protest at any cost.
“What is the value of all the people that are being deported and living in constant fear,” Eider said. “I sleep a lot better at night knowing I did something. I said something.”