ICE Protest Breaks Out at El Monte Northgate Market


Brayan Altamirano/El Paisano News

Protestors displayed their animosity towards immigration and customs enforcement in the Northgate Market parking lot, the morning of Feb. 21.

Ramon Alvarado, Editor-in-Chief

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were expected to investigate the Northgate Market in El Monte early Wednesday, Feb. 21 morning. The agents were to check the Northgate Market’s employees work permits, making sure they were all legally able to work.

Police, media and El Monte residents flooded the markets’ parking lot as they awaited the ICE agents’ arrival. Residents who frequently visited the Northgate Market shopping center noticed there were less shoppers than usual.

The Northgate Market also appeared to have fewer employees than they regularly do. Only a couple registers were open and only a few workers were on the floor.

Outside, protesters waved “Immigrants are Welcomed Here” and “ICE is not Welcomed Here” signs as cars rode passed the intersection of Peck Rd. and Ramona Blvd., where the market is located.

One anti-ICE protester, a young El Monte resident who chose to remain anonymous had a speaker which he used to blare out anti-ICE and anti-police music. The young man also had a mic he and other fed-up El Monte residents occasionally used to call out the police and the city’s councilmembers.

El Monte’s Chief of Police, David R. Reynoso was unphased by the anti-police comments being made and assured policemen were only there to keep peace.

“The police department is really only here for one reason, to maintain public safety,” Chief Reynoso explained. “I know we have a group of protesters here. [The police] are not doing anything to infringe their rights to protest as long as they do it in a peaceful manner, in which they are.”

There were anti-ICE protesters who covered the bottom half of their faces, making sure they protected their identities from anyone who might want to harm them because of their stance.

“[The masks] make us feel safe,” one of the masked protesters, who chose to remain anonymous said, “especially with everything that’s going on right now. It’s pretty easy to find out who people are. For whatever reason, you can attack anybody you want just because you don’t like their opinion. You can go online, find their photo, find who they are and what not.”

The young man went on to talk about the fear the ICE agents have instilled on the residents of El Monte.

“A lot of people in El Monte have to live in fear right now. A lot of people that I know have family members that are undocumented. They have children here who are scared for their parents,” the protester said. “The fact that someone can get seperated from someone they’ve known their entire life, and then go to another country and possibly not see them for a long time, that strikes fear into a lot of people. It’s a very real reality with what’s going on right now. I don’t think a lot of people really realize, or they don’t try to imagine the pain those families feel.”

After waiting for ICE to arrive for about three hours, the crowd was given word that the agent’s were not showing up to the market anymore. The anti-ICE protesters took this as a victory, though agents are still expected to check the market’s employees’ work permits at a later, more private time.

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