A grandmother was arrested in Fairfield, CA while attempting to deliver toys and books to children who were separated from their parents at the border Liz DeCou is her name. DeCou said, “Why was I arrested for wanting to offer comfort to a child?”
Two Bay Area residents — including a grandmother of four — were arrested Sunday while trying to deliver toys to a shelter for migrant children, according to the Berkeley group “Solidaridad con Niños.”
The man and woman, identified as Elizabeth DeCou and Jesse Ingber, caravanned to the Baptist Child and Family Services shelter on Pennsylvania Avenue Sunday with about 35 volunteers to deliver toys and books and sing lullabies to the kids in Spanish, the group said.
But police and an employee from the shelter — who identified himself to the group as a security guard — blocked their entry to the facility and asked them to step off the property.
In a video posted to Facebook Monday, DeCou, 66, is seen approaching the shelter with a basket of toys in her arms. As volunteers sing, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Spanish, an officer with the Fairfield police department warns her to step back onto the sidewalk or she’ll be arrested.
“Are you going to step back on the sidewalk or no?” the officer asked, to which DeCou replied, “no.” Another officer then cuffed her. In a separate video, Ingber, 27, is seen being walked off in cuffs after approaching the shelter with a stuffed animal in his hands. Some of the volunteers cheered.
DeCou, a registered nurse and child abuse victim advocate from Oakland, said she demanded answers about the safety and well-being of the kids but that officers refused to divulge any information.
“We have facilities nearby where children are being held, but we won’t know if they’ve been recently separated from their parents,” she told this news organization Tuesday. “We don’t know their ages. We don’t know how long they’ve been held.”
“We’re not allowed any information as to the status of these children and if they’re safe,” said DeCou, who was released after spending six hours in custody.
Fairfield police on Tuesday confirmed the arrest and said DeCou was cited for misdemeanor trespassing. A court date is set for July 30.
The issue was extremely personal for DeCou, whose father escaped Nazi Germany at the age of 13. Other family members didn’t make it out alive, she said.
this,” she said. “I’m so sorry to see what is happening to this country.”
Baptist Child and Family Services, which could not be reached for comment, is part of a private, nonprofit network of organizations that contracts with the federal government to house unaccompanied migrant children. It also provides international humanitarian aid to impoverished children and families, programs for families that care for abused and neglected children and juvenile justice intervention, among other services, according to its website.
The shelter has been identified in several news reports as one of the nonprofits currently sheltering some of the migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The shelter in Fairfield hasn’t publicly confirmed the reports.
In the week before their visit, group members said they tried contacting the shelter to coordinate a visit and the drop-off time for the truckload of toys and books they’d collected. But their calls weren’t returned, they said.