Dad of 2 tells of being in ICE jail, what lies ahead
By Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)
July 10, 2020
A homecoming celebration outside the Allen County sheriff’s office Thursday welcomed activist-protester Jorge “George” Oliva back to Fort Wayne before he was nearly deported to Mexico, a country he left at 6 years of age.
Audrey Davis of Faith in Indiana, the organization that sponsored an earlier phone campaign to the ICE headquarters in Chicago to free Oliva after his arrest June 15 by the Fort Wayne Police Department, led the crowd in chants in Spanish and English.
Then Oliva spoke at the side of his brother Hector and mother, Laura Romero.
“I don’t know how they can do it to kids as young as 3,” Oliva said as he described his incarceration inside a 12-by-8 foot cage 24 hours a day. He left the cell three times a day, shackled, to eat. The shackles seemed extraordinary, said Oliva, 26, the father of two young girls, “because there was nowhere to run.”
Oliva returns to a federal court hearing in August but without the ankle bracelet he wore for five years and one that he recklessly bared while standing on a stone pillar at the Courthouse Green on June 4. Protesters and Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed, Mayor Tom Henry and other community leaders came together for a Unity March that day after protests the weekend before against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I don’t care no more. I’m doing this for my people,” he shouted into the crowd.
Oliva is still afraid of being arrested, he told media Thursday, but the charges he incurred June 16 for rioting, obstruction of traffic, disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement June 14 have been dismissed, a claim borne out in court documents.
Oliva credits his attorney, Brian Seyfried, with managing his case in Fort Wayne and in Chicago. “He is the best immigration attorney,” Oliva said, but immigration legal help comes at a cost. Oliva hopes to be able to work for a living again, he added.
Oliva told The Journal Gazette he wants two women who told police he was armed with an AK-47 and was going to “unload on some people” to be “held accountable for their testimony.”
Gang Unit Officer Geoff Norton arrested Oliva on the Green on June 15. In a probable cause, Norton said Oliva was “walking with a limp” causing Norton to believe he was armed.
Oliva said if he had been carrying a concealed weapon, it would have been obvious since he is of slight build.
Sheriff David Gladieux, who has been criticized by Faith in Indiana for working with ICE, said after Oliva’s June 19 arrest that ICE came with the proper paperwork to detain Oliva.
On Tuesday, Oliva was freed from the Dodge County Detention Center in Juno, Wisconsin, after Stefanie Byus and several friends, including Jada Kight, went earlier to the Chicago ICE office to hand over $9,000 in a cashier’s check for his release, Byus said.
Money for his release came from donations and the Summit City Mutual Aid and Defense, a Fort Wayne activist organization that has bonded out many protesters without the means to pay bail.
Romero said through son Hector, 14, that she wouldn’t wish the family separation on anyone.
“This is just the beginning,” Oliva said as he emphasized his words with a pumped fist. “We are speaking for our people.”