Pancho is free!

    Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle–the Oakland activist and community organizer who was arrested while meditating on Monday outside City Hall–was released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last night. This comes as a major relief to the many friends and supporters who rallied in his defense against the threat of deportation to Mexico.

    While Pancho is not completely out of the woods yet–he must appear before an immigration judge at a future date–the fact that he was released on his own recognizance is a positive sign. Even more positive, however, has been the outpouring of support. Over 8,000 people signed the petition that went up on Tuesday night and the outcry over his arrest and possible deportation continues to grow on Twitter–with names like Van Jones helping spread the message.

    Shortly after his release, Pancho took part in a conference call, where he spoke about his time in custody “touching the hearts of all the people in the system which has failed.” By the sound of it, his few days in detention were not all that different than any other in his life–spreading warmth and kindness to those who don’t normally receive much.

    This message, released by his lawyer earlier in the day, sums it up well:

    Pancho wanted me to convey to folks that he was, for some reason, identified as a particularly dangerous inmate, wearing a red jacket in jail, and shackled so that the movement of his arms was restrained. The shackles were metal, and surrounded his waist. Apparently, this treatment is reserved only for the most “dangerous” inmates. It is unclear why Alameda County decided to place shackles on him. But after a short conversation, we agreed that, without a doubt, Pancho was the most dangerous person in Santa Rita Jail–dangerous to the system, and dangerous to the 1%. As Pancho reiterated, the most effective weapon against a system based on greed and violence is kindness.

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