Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Jan. 25, 2018

Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, is being held at a detention facility in Goshen, N.Y., pending the resolution of his deportation case. Photo by Tequila Minsky

Ragbir report: After being detained during a routine check-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office  at Broadway and Worth St. on Jan. 11, immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir was promptly flown down to the Krome Detention Center in Miami. There, Ragbir, the executive director of the Judson Church-based New Sanctuary Coalition, was poised to be deported back to Trinidad. Ragbir’s lawyers quickly filed an appeal to block his deportation and also return him to the New York area.  In Miami detention, Ragbir spent Martin Luther King Day with fellow immigrant activist and New Sanctuary Coalition co-founder Jean Montrevil, who was deported to Haiti the following day. Returned to the New York area on Jan. 17, Ragbir has been transferred to Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen, N.Y., a bit over an hour away from the city, where he waits while his detention and deportation order is being appealed. Visiting Ragbir at Goshen at 8 a.m. on Sat., Jan. 20, were Reverend Donna Schaper, Judson’s senior minister; Juan Carlos Ruiz, another co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition; and Will Coley, a member of Ragbir’s defense committee. As instructed, they arrived 50 minutes early, to go through security. The three met Ragbir in a large visiting room with 20 to 25 other inmates and their visitors. “It was a ‘contact visit,’ so there was no barrier between us, just a low, undulating wall and counter,” Coley reported. The allotted time for a visit is one hour. “Ravi was happy to see us but said he was very tired since he hadn’t been sleeping well since ICE detained him. Ravi said the facility was cleaner and better than Krome. But it’s still a prison.” Ragbir’s long hair is down because they won’t give him a hair tie. “Ravi in detention looks and acts more like Jesus than ever,” Schaper said, adding, “He is helping other inmates find their way through the ICE maze and referring people to the New Sanctuary clinics Downstate.” Referring to his looming Jan. 29 court hearing in New York on his detention, Schaper said it “will be an important day in American life.” Meanwhile, more than 1,800 community organizations, immigrant-rights groups, faith-based organizations, immigrant-rights lawyers, professors and community supporters from 50 states have submitted a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, condemning the targeting of leaders in the U.S. immigrant-rights movement. The letter calls for the immediate release of Ragbir and Eliseo Jurado Fernandez from immigration detention, the return of Montrevil from Haiti, and a halt to the effort to deport Maru Mora-Villalpando, all immigrant-rights leaders who were targeted for deportation in recent weeks. Speaking to his wife, Amy Gottlieb, by phone from Goshen a few days after the supporters’ visit, Ragbir said, “The powerful community response has inspired me. It is clear that this energy is not going to go away — we are going to grow and get stronger and continue fighting for fairness and humanity in our immigration policy, and we will see a world in which all people are treated with dignity and respect.”

                                                                                                                                     — Tequila Minsky


The Butson Award: For the first time, the New York Press Association for this year’s Better Newspaper Contest, will be giving out the Thomas G. Butson Award for Investigative / In-depth Reporting. The award, of course, is named for the late Tom Butson, who was the editor of The Villager from the early 1990s until late 1999, just a few months before he died at age 68. With his wife Elizabeth Butson as publisher, Tom — a former top editor at The New York Times — revived The Villager and set it on its course to becoming an award-winning weekly. The NYPA award will honor “outstanding work for a single story or series of stories on the same subject, such as environmental, health, crime or social issues, which could combine elements of news and /or feature writing and which indicate a considerable degree of research and /or investigation. Excellence and depth of research, quality of presentation, and the overall impact of the topic of the story or series will be taken into account by the judges.” The first-place winners in each circulation division will be awarded a $250 cash prize, courtesy of Elizabeth, who established the award in memory of her late husband.

C.B. 3 live: Thanks to funding from Councilmember Margaret Chin, the monthly full-board meetings of Community Board 3 during the next six months will be live-streamed and then also viewable on YouTube. The first meeting was videoed and live-streamed this past Tuesday night. The quality was excellent and you can really hear every word. C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said the link to watch the live coverage will be posted on the board’s Web site before the meetings — though, she admitted, this did not happen before the first one just held Jan. 23.

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