After five detained by immigration agents at Chicago pizzeria, activists hold small protest

Chicago Tribune 1 month ago

The red and blue neon sign in the window flashed "open," but the inside of this Route 66 Pizza was vacant.

Taped on the front glass window of the Southeast Side pizzeria at 10180 S. Indianapolis Ave. was a white paper bag with the words “Closed Until Further Notice” written in black marker on it.

Five workers were detained Monday morning by federal immigration agents at the pizzeria, according to activists and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Federal officials did not confirm details.

On Tuesday, a handful of people gathered to protest the arrests at the northeast corner of 106th Street and Ewing Avenue, less than a mile away from where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took the five into custody..

"We would like them released as soon as possible and for the immigration department to stop messing with innocent families who are trying to make a living," said Anthony Martinez, an organizer of the small demonstration.

Immigration activists and people who have come to Chicago as immigrants have been on edge since the summer. In July, thousands of protesters marched through the Loop, chanting and hoisting signs when President Donald Trump announced federal officials would begin large-scale deportations soon.

The few protesters Tuesday urged the public to stand up against what they described as merciless immigration enforcement.

“If we don’t stop it now, where’s it going to end?” Wayne Garritano asked.

Most of the demonstrators carried bright-colored signs expressing their frustration with immigration enforcement.

"Stop separating families," one sign read.

"Immigrants make America great!" read another.

“No one really understands the history of this country,” Del Zamora said.

“If you did, you’d understand this is a nation of immigrants, it’s one of the few nations that’s a nation of immigrants, and that’s what make it great. That’s why it’s been as successful as it has.”

Tuesday afternoon, customers still stopped by the restaurant hoping to grab lunch.

Mike Buck walked with a bounce in his step as he approached the front door of the pizzeria. Unaware of the store's closing, he pulled at the handle before noticing the sign. He turned around with his head down.

“I can’t lie, I’m a little disappointed,” said Mike Buck, who usually gets a slice of sausage pizza. Buck, who said he was a student at nearby Olive-Harvey College, said he usually stops by once a week after leaving class.

One man, who declined to give his name, drove up looking to apply for a job.

“I heard they’re looking for help,” he said.

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