Charges dropped against Ariel Vences Lopez from arrest on Minneapolis light rail
Activists still fighting to stop his deportation
Minneapolis, MN – On June 23, the charges against Ariel Vences Lopez of ‘fare evasion,’ ‘obstruction of process’ and ‘providing a false name to police’ were dropped. This legal victory is one step in the campaign that immigrant rights and anti-police brutality activists are waging to stop the deportation of Vences Lopez and stop police harassment and brutality on Twin Cities public transit.
Vences Lopez was riding the blue line light rail train in Minneapolis on May 14 and gained national attention after a video posted to Facebook went viral. In the video, Metro Transit police officer Andy Lamers can be seen asking Vences-Lopez, “Are you here illegally?” during what appears to be a routine fare check. Minneapolis is supposed to be a ‘sanctuary city’ where police do not ask people about immigration status. Metro Transit, which has its own police force, claims to not ask about immigration status either, despite the viral video showing Lamers doing exactly that.
After protesting at the Met Council and pressing authorities about what happened, it became clear that after the video snippet showing officer Lamers questioning Vences-Lopez ended, he was then removed from the train, tased and then arrested. The charges from that arrest are the charges that were dropped today.
When Vences-Lopez was in custody at the Hennepin County Jail for these charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put a hold on him, after which he was transferred to ICE for deportation. He is still held by ICE pending deportation, with activists and lawyers working to stop his deportation. Getting the charges against Vences Lopez dropped is one step in that process.