Orlando police arrest 15 activists blocking traffic

Immigration reform activists rally in downtown Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - Police on Tuesday arrested and removed more than a dozen  immigration reform protesters from a street in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Orlando.

[PICS: Immigration rally in downtown Orlando]

About 20 activists blocked traffic at a busy downtown intersection Tuesday afternoon after a march pushing for immigration reform. Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney said anyone blocking traffic would be arrested as dozens of officers tried to control the crowd while arrests were underway.

One by one, the sitting protesters were restrained with plastic cuffs and lifted to their feet. They were then placed in a police car. One protester went limp and was carried by officers.

In total, 15 people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, a misdemeanor charge.  When several of the protestors bonded out of the Orange County jail early Wednesday  morning, they were greeted with songs, cheers, chants and were awarded a medal by their cohorts.

"We were there for 30 to40 minutes.  We were asked to leave and eventually arrested," said protester Jeremy Brain Cruz-Haiken, who posted a $250 bond on a misdemeanor charge.

"I want all of the immigrants to know we are doing this for them and for immigration reform," said Gloria Hernandez.  "I've never been in this situation. This is my first time and I am 58 years old."

"We are just going to continue to demand that John Boehner hears the immigration bill and that he gives it a vote as soon as possible because we cannot wait any longer," said Ciara Taylor, who spent 12 hours in jail.

Local 6 news helicopter Sky 6 flew over downtown Orlando where several activists remained sitting in a circle in the middle of East Central Boulevard, blocking the road.

Activists said it's part of a civil disobedience action geared at getting Republican House leadership to vote for immigration reform. The activists demand that Boehner bring one of the immigration reform bills to the floor so Congress can vote.

The activists are asking lawmakers to follow the lead of California U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham and support the latest House comprehensive immigration reform bill. Last weekend, Denham became the first House Republican to join the Democrat-backed legislation.

Farmworkers, students and their supporters are pressing GOP Reps. Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney and Daniel Webster to follow suit.

OPD says they believe the people intended to get arrested, some of them even packing medication with them to possibly spend the night in jail.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.

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