Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were questioned by angry Queens residents while arresting a man accused of two crimes: burglary and illegally reentering the country.
Over 30 residents tried to stop the federal agents on Tuesday while they were taking local construction worker Hardat (Ryan) Sampat, 35, into custody. Sampat’s supporters demanded to know why ICE was making the arrest.
Around 10 a.m., the Guyanese native left his family’s home, headed to Queens Criminal Court for a scheduled court appearance.
Sampat is accused of being involved in two separate burglaries on April 10 and May 9, according to court records. But before he could leave the street, ICE agents with an arrest warrant descended in unmarked cars and boxed him in.
Sampat’s sister displayed her distress, kneeling before the ICE agents and praying as the agents tried to do their job. According to witness Melissa Rivera, a family friend, the sister was asking the agents, “Why me? Why me?”
As the crowd drew more people, ICE agents were forced to call for backup. NYPD officers were dispatched to the area to control the crowd, but they did not make any additional arrests.
Sampat was loaded into an awaiting vehicle and taken to Manhattan Federal Court for processing. Aside from the burglary charges, Sampat faces charges of illegal reentry. He was deported approximately five years ago, then allegedly returned illegally to be with family in the U.S.
Rivera said Sampat isn’t guilty of the burglaries. “It’s messed up because he was on his way to prove his innocence about the burglary and then he gets arrested before he can,” she said. “His family had been through this before with him and now it’s happening again.” Rivera says Sampat has proof that he was in Florida during one of the burglaries.
You can watch the video here.
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