Orlando police arrest 15 activists blocking traffic

Immigration reform activists rally in downtown Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – Police officers have arrested and removed more than a dozen immigration reform protesters from a street in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Orlando on Tuesday afternoon.

Almost 20 activists were blocking traffic at a busy downtown intersection Tuesday afternoon after a march pushing for immigration reform. OPD Chief Paul Rooney said anyone blocking traffic would be arrested as dozens of officers tried to control crowd while arrests were underway.

One by one the sitting protesters were restrained with plastic cuffs and lifted to their feet. They were then placed in a police car. One protester went limp and was carried by officers.

In total, 15 people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, a misdemeanor charge.

Pictures from WKMG-TV's helicopter showed several activists sitting in a circle in the middle of East Central Boulevard, blocking the road.

Activists say it's part of a civil disobedience action geared at getting Republican House leadership to vote for immigration reform. The activists demand House Speaker John Boehner bring one of the immigration reform bills to the floor so congress can vote.

The activists are asking lawmakers to follow the lead of California U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham and support the latest House comprehensive immigration reform bill. Last weekend, Denham became the first House Republican to join the Democrat-backed legislation.

Farmworkers, students and their supporters are pressing GOP Reps. Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney and Daniel Webster to follow suit.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the activists will hold a prayer vigil outside the Orange County jail where the 15 protesters are being held.

OPD says they believe the people intended to get arrested, some of them even packing medication with them to possibly spend the night in jail.