Community members outside the hospital where Erick Díaz-Cruz was taken. Photo: Joel Northam

The Gravesend community was left in outrage after Erick Díaz-Cruz, a Mexican national visiting his mother in Brooklyn, was shot in the face by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent on Feb. 6. The plainclothes ICE agent shot him as he was defending his mother’s partner, an undocumented immigrant, from a terrorizing early-morning arrest. Díaz-Cruz has since filed suit against ICE, calling his shooting “an attack against the entire Latino community.”

After the shooting Díaz-Cruz was taken to Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, where ICE agents continued to harass the family, prohibiting them from entering his hospital room for 12 hours, until the Mexican Consulate intervened

A gathering developed outside of the hospital in support of Díaz-Cruz, comprised of neighbors, activists, and leaders within local non-profits centered on supporting immigrant communities. People spoke out against the violence and repression. Organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation mobilized a rapid response to build the demonstration at the hospital, and met with concerned neighbors. The community response for Erick Díaz-Cruz was a display of immigrant community and working class unity.

On February 19th, Erick Díaz-Cruz filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the ICE officer who shot him. “This is not just an attack against me, but also an attack against the entire Latino community in the United States,” he said. “This is the right time for our community to come together to protest against and protect ourselves from ICE’s violence

Not an isolated incident

Although particularly outrageous, this most recent and noteworthy display of anti-immigrant violence is unfortunately not isolated. In July 2019 there were large scale waves of ICE raids in the nearby Sunset Park neighborhood, and all throughout the summer of 2019, fears of raids in Bensonhurst and Gravesend left immigrant communities anxious and isolated.

Díaz-Cruz’s call for the working class communities in Brooklyn to unite against ICE and anti-immigrant violence points the way to stop these attacks. If the  entire working class in Brooklyn, whether undocumented, naturalized, or native-born, forged ties together to resist ICE and other police violence, ICE wouldn’t even be able to enter the neighborhoods, let alone shoot immigrants in the face.

Demonstration outside of hospital. Photo: Joel Northam.