By Jonathan Sperling
Ridgewood residents spotted an armored military vehicle on the street Wednesday morning, when agents with the Department of Homeland Security took a “high risk” suspect into custody.
A photo of the armored vehicle, initially thought to be part of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, was sent by a tipster to NY1, showing the vehicle on Forest Avenue near Norman Street. An officer holding a high-capacity rifle is emerging from the top of the vehicle, known as a BearCat.
A spokesperson for ICE told the Eagle that the BearCat and the agents inside were not conducting an immigration enforcement operation. Instead, they were following up on a criminal arrest warrant for a “high-risk” suspect. The operation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations’ Special Response Team, the spokesperson said.
The suspect is currently pending prosecution in federal court, according to the spokesperson. The spokesperson did not provide a reason for the warrant and did not disclose the suspect’s identity.
Though the vehicle was not used as part of an immigration operation, the presence of federal agents in the neighborhood stoked fears among immigrants' rights advocates.
“This happened this morning in Ridgewood. HSI, which is a part of ICE, was on Forest Ave between Summerfield St & Norman St. If you have any information, please let us know and NEVER open your door to ICE,” tweeted Ridgewood Tenants Union, along with a photo of the vehicle.
ICE agents arrested more than 80 people in the New York City metro area over the course of a five-day period in September 2019 on suspicion that they violated immigration laws, including a Jamaica man. In April 2018, ICE arrested nearly 200 people across the city, including 40 in Queens.
The presence of the armored vehicle — a scene more common on a battlefield than a residential street — also prompted anger in the community.
“The streets of Ridgewood are no place for military vehicles—period,” 38th Assembly District candidate Joey de Jesus, a CUNY adjunct professor, told the Eagle.