By Hayden Farmer
Sun Post Newspapers
Members of the Communities United Against Police Brutality rallied Monday at the New Hope City Council meeting in support of a man now in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and scheduled for deportation.
The group’s goal is to have the Andy Lamers, the officer who questioned the man’s immigration status while he was riding a light rail train, removed from his position as a New Hope Police officer.
On May 14, Lamers approached Ariel Vences-Lopez on a train while Lamers was on duty for the Metro Transit Police. Lamers was investigating fare evasion and was filmed asking about the immigration status of Vences-Lopez. When a voice from behind the camera asked if he was authorized to act as immigration police Lamers responded “No, not necessarily.”
A statement from Sean Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, said that Metro Transit did not fire Lamers, but that Lamers resigned on his own accord to spare Metro Transit from further scrutiny. Lamers continues to be a K-9 police officer at the New Hope Police Department.
During the Monday meeting, the council permitted an open forum, and several members of the Communities United Against Police Brutality spoke against Lamers.
“We want to call attention to Andy Lamers,” said Dave Bicking, a member of the group. “His conduct should disqualify him from working as a police officer.”
Minneapolis and New Hope residents also shared their comments with the council.
Danielle Robinson Briand, attorney for Vences-Lopez, spoke on behalf of her client. Briand explained that her client had only evaded fare because he was robbed at knife-point earlier that day. Briand went on to say that the city of New Hope is a rarity in that it does not grant U visas, a visa set aside for victims of crimes that maintain a nonimmigrant status.
The city council could not make any decisions at the meeting, but the CUAPB members made it clear that their presence will continue at city council meetings for as long as they feel injustice remains.