OAKLAND, Calif. - Is it a case of racial profiling or a sheriff's deputy just doing his job? It all centers around a fruit vendor who was detained in San Lorenzo.
The picture of 47-year-old Pedro Martin Aguilar seen in handcuffs, has gone viral, sparking a huge debate.
"Last week, we heard and we saw a picture of a fruit vendor being arrested in San Lorenzo by the sheriff's department, shame on them. Boo," an Oakland immigration activist said Wednesday.
Jon Rodney is one of the immigration activists looking for transparency from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. "This cruel act and, frankly, a heartless response from the sheriff's department," he said.
On Wednesday, the sheriff's office responded, saying fruit vendors are typically not seen in San Lorenzo neighborhoods. It was a neighbor who called to have him removed.
"We can only respond to those complaints. We don't go out proactively seeking fruit vendors to arrest them," Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly said.
"There are a lot of folks in Oakland, like all over Oakland, people are selling stuff. I'm sure they don't have permits but the point here is all they are doing is trying to make a living," Alameda County Unified Defense of Immigrant Rights spokesperson Patricia Contreras said.
The sheriff's office maintains Aguilar was arrested only after he pushed the officer to one side and tried to run. "All we wanted, from the get go, was to tell this man hey, can you please pack your fruits and vegetables and could you move on about your business. You're not allowed to sell here," Kelly said.
During the arrest, the officer discovered Aguilar had an ankle monitor and is currently on federal probation.
The sheriff's office says it will not cooperate with immigration officials to have him deported. Still, if ICE reaches out to Alameda County to find out his release date, the sheriff's office must comply.
Meanwhile, the latest figures show ICE arrests are up by more than 41 percent compared to last year. It's not clear where Aguilar will end up.
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