City Council member Jumaane Williams would rather fight than plead.
The Brooklyn politician rejected a deal Tuesday to dodge obstruction charges linked to the Jan. 11 incarceration of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir in lower Manhattan.
Williams instead faces his own May 8 court appearance stemming from his arrest for trying to keep Ragbir out of federal custody during what started as a routine check-in.
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“What we did was morally correct in defense of others, and I’m very much looking forward to having my day in court,” said Williams after his Manhattan Criminal Court arraignment.
Friends and supporters filled the courtroom where Williams stood with his 16 co-defendants. All but Williams took an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) — a move that clears each one if they avoid re-arrest for six months.
Ragbir — carrying a rainbow umbrella — appeared in court to offer support for those who supported him. He shook hands with each activist arrested back when he was arrested.
“They were there because they didn’t want to see me deported,” said Ragbir. “I have to reciprocate.”
Williams said he would typically take the ACD but felt the need to ramp things up after Ragbir’s arrest and attempted deportation to Trinidad and Tobago.
The immigrant activist is a 27-year resident of the United States.
“I have, since the time of the Orange Madness that’s going through our country, told people we have to move further,” said Williams, referring to the Trump administration.
“We have to go out of that comfort zone.”
Williams flashed Ragbir a peace sign after his arraignment ended on charges for allegedly blocking an EMT vehicle carrying the activist two months ago.
Ragbir remains in New York after filing a federal lawsuit against the government’s order to deport him. Williams plans to continue the fight to keep Ragbir in the city.
“Whatever privilege we have, we have to use that,” said Williams. “I think I’m privileged to be a citizen. I’m privileged to be an elected official and I felt it is my duty to use those things to try to push this forward.”
“If we didn’t do what we did, Ravi wouldn’t be here.”