The Grassroots Collaborative on Sunday rallied in support of two men who were arrested while doing community outreach work to promote the Affordable Care Act on behalf of the organization.
Last Tuesday, Felipe Hernandez, 20, and Kevin Tapia, 19, were canvassing in the Garfield Ridge community for Grassroots Collaborative to inform residents about the March 31 sign-up deadline for the Affordable Care Act. Grassroots Collaborative received funding to reach out to low-income Chicagoans about the health refrom law.
Both Hernandez and Tapia were arrested on Tuesday and charged with misdemeanor "soliciting unlawful business." They are scheduled to appear in court on May 16th.
The Grassroots Collaborative held a press conference Sunday "because educating Chicagoans about affordable healthcare coverage is not a crime, but racist profiling by police is," Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Collaborative, said in a statement. The two workers who were arrested are Latino.
"We are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy to drop the charges, apologize, and institute anti-racist training for all Chicago Police officers,” she added.
A Chicago police official on Sunday told the Chicago Tribune that the judge will likely dismiss the men's charges.
At the time of the arrest, police officers did not immediately know that the two men were doing community outreach work on behalf of the Grassroots Collaborative. Adam Collins, a Chicago Police Department spokesman, told the newspaper that a resident phoned 911 after seeing the men in the area, which has faced a string of “rash of door-to-door scams.”
When police officers arrived, Hernandez and Tapia were reportedly unable to produce identification that showed they worked for the Grassroots Collaborative. They were also unable to say who their supervisor was, according to Collins.
“This information, which was not available to officers at the time of the arrest, will surely be presented when the matter goes before a judge and the case should be disposed of at that time,” Collins told the newspaper.