USA: Will Occupy Oakland Activist “Pancho” Be Deported?

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.

The arrest of a meditating protester Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle outside Oakland City Hall last November 14th has become the battle flag for the Occupy Oakland camp, in California.

This 36-year-old Mexican tweep (@ONEworldcitizen), blogger and activist was detained with two others who sat beside him quietly meditating in a yoga pose while surrounded by chaos as riot police evicted Frank Ogawa Plaza. A total of 32 protesters where taken to custody that Tuesday.  As he was booked in Alameda County jail, his fingerprints flagged him as an immigrant.

“As police officers lifted him up and handcuffed him, he slipped on his shoes and was escorted away,” described this article from Mercury News.

"Pancho" Ramos being arrested at Occupy Oakland eviction

"Pancho" Ramos being arrested at Occupy Oakland eviction

For three days, this dedicated peace activist sat imprisoned, even though the charges were dropped, and was ” identified as a particularly dangerous inmate, wearing a red jacket in jail, and shackled so that the movement of his arms was restrained,” according to the Free Pancho website.

Here are some reactions from Twitter taken from the hashtag #FreePancho as the story developed:

Teacher and University Chaplain Chaz Howard (@Chaz_Howard) informed:

An inspiring peace activist who was at Occupy Oakland now faces threats of deportation – Inside Bay Area #FreePancho

Journalist Steve Fisher (@Stevelfisher) tweeted with irony:

Pancho's “criminal” charge of meditating at #OO [Occupy Oakland] was dropped by Alameda County. ICE hold remains #freepancho

Immigrant Rights (@changeImmigrant) commented:

Thousands Rally to #FreePancho – Peace Activist Arrested While Meditating at #OccupyOakland #ows #immigration

His detention and possible deportation inspired almost 8,000 people to sign a petition against his deportation in just two days. Pancho calmly and confidently expressed:

You cannot deport me like you cannot deport the sun.

Here's a YouTube video that summarizes his arrest:

Pancho was a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley, pursuing a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He resigned the program when he found out his knowledge was going to be used in the service of developing weapons of war, including so-called “safer nuclear weapons.”

As this post was written, Pancho was released on his own recognizance pending court hearing. As Gail Hynes Shea wrote in Pancho's Facebook page, his immigration status is still to be defined:

Pancho is free on his own recognizance pending a hearing! The feds actually took custody of him and released him! It doesn't mean he is out of the woods yet deportation-wise, but this is a great step. Thank you to all who signed the petition for him. Sometimes things happen that make me know that justice is still a priority in this country. This is one. Congratulations Pancho Ramos Stierle!

Signatures are still being collected to avoid his deportation.

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.

Featured image shows “Pancho” Ramos meditating at Occupy Oakland before his arrest. Image by Flickr user albill (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.