By Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)
July 3, 2020
About 20 to 30 people on Thursday gathered outside the Allen County Courthouse to phone bank for Jorge Oliva, an undocumented immigrant who was arrested last month and scheduled for deportation, protest organizers said.
En masse, the group organized by Faith In Indiana, called Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Chicago headquarters, leaving messages urging the federal agency to release Oliva, also known as George, Faith Indiana member Paula Avila said.
In addition to those outside the courthouse, 100 more people signed onto a list, indicating they planned to call the ICE office on Oliva’s behalf, Avila added.
“I’ve never seen a community of Black, brown and white uniting to an effort (like this),” Avila said. “Many of them didn’t know Jorge themselves, but they heard of him and wanted to support what he had been doing peacefully before the protests.”
Oliva was arrested June 15 by Fort Wayne police on charges of rioting, disorderly conduct, resisting law enforcement and obstructing traffic. Court documents claim Oliva was part of a crowd June 14 in downtown Fort Wayne when he allegedly moved a fence blocking Clinton Street, blocking traffic.
Charging documents claim Oliva threatened to “unload on some people,” but do not provide more specific information. Police also claimed that an unnamed officer thought Oliva might have a rifle in his pants.
Investigators said Oliva had a metal bat and “violently pulled away” from officers who were trying to arrest him. Misdemeanor charges against Oliva were later dismissed.
Oliva moved to Fort Wayne from Guanajuato, Mexico, with his parents and a sibling at age 6. He is a graduate of Snider High School and has two daughters. Oliva is being held in Wisconsin, and his next hearing is Monday.
Because the hearing is states away, Avila said it will be difficult for Oliva’s supporters and family to attend.
Faith in Indiana’s goal is to get Oliva home, Avila said. She also said she hopes his case will help raise awareness of other cases in Fort Wayne and Allen County.
Additionally, Avila said she hopes Sheriff David Gladieux will meet with Faith in Indiana to discuss his department’s policy regarding cooperation with immigration officials.
Cookye Rutledge of Faith in Indiana said the group wants Gladieux to “honor his promise,” made in 2018 that he would not seek out undocumented immigrants for deportation.
“We want him to keep his word,” she said. “We’re doing peaceful protests because we all live in this city together and we want to live in harmony together.”