Maine’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was arrested outside a detention center in Texas on Friday morning for refusing to leave the premises after being told he was not allowed in.
The nominee, Zak Ringelstein, announced Wednesday that he was traveling to McAllen, Texas, to deliver personal items, including toys, books and blankets to the immigrant children currently being held there.
A Facebook Live video, which contains the arrest, shows Ringelstein waiting outside the center, being told he cannot go in, and then arguing with border patrol agents in the parking lot.
Ringelstein told the border agents that he believes, without going into the facility, that the children are being deprived of water, books, blankets, and other essential items.
“There are other organizations that we’ve been working with that you can provide them those items. […] legally we cannot accept them into our facility,” a female agent informed Ringelstein.
The agent told him, “and for all the public that’s watching,” that he can deliver the items to churches and other organizations that the facility works with, but legally cannot deliver them at the center.
“If you truly, in your heart, want to deliver this, that’s the way to get them this,” she said.
As dozens more police officers and border patrol agents show up, the agent accused Ringelstein of impeding their operations by loitering in the parking lot. She pointed to the myriad of cop cars in the lot that had since arrived and told Ringelstein that now those cops are not able to work on other issues, including “rescues and responding to car crashes.”
“You are literally imprisoning children here. So let’s think about the equivalency of that,” Ringelstein said.
Ringelstein claimed an agent told him to move his car because he was blocking the way for the car to drop off “prisoners.”
“Are we really talking about children? Are we actually calling them prisoners now? Is that under your enforcement that they’re called prisoners?” Ringelstein asked.
“We do have people that are under arrest,” she replied. A man sitting next to Ringelstein then asked what they were under arrest for, to which the border patrol agent replied, “For illegally entering the country. […] They’ve broken the law. This is a country of laws is it not?” she said.
Ringelstein asked the agent if she would put her own children in jail.
“If they broke the law, they would have to face the consequences. They know that,” she said.
The spat continued, as the agent asked Ringelstein who is currently representing Maine. Ringelstein said he didn’t want to talk about it, and asked what that had to do with anything.
“You say you’re trying to get the word out, […] the media is out there, the media has visited, people who are actually in their positions have visited and are continuing to visit,” the agent said. “We open the doors for them, people who write the laws and can be here. The general public cannot.”
The man next to Ringelstein asked why they can’t take pictures from inside the facility.
“Because there’s children in there that we need to protect,” she responded. “We’re protecting the privacy of the people we have in detention.”
Ringelstein refered to the centers as “Trump’s interment camps” as he is eventually handcuffed by police officers.
“Zak is now a political prisoner of the Trump regime,” a tweet from his personal Twitter page reads, which was also live tweeting the situation.
He is currently being held in a Texas jail on suspicion of criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine, according to another tweet on his account.
Ringelstein is a former public school teacher running against incumbent Independent Sen. Angus King.