Two NFL players came to the aide of an undocumented immigrant activist after the man, who decided to read a poem criticizing America at a public meeting, was arrested by ICE agents.
José Bello, 22 was released on $50,000 bail Monday, three months after he was picked up by ICE agents and locked away. Bello read a poem titled “Dear America” at a board of supervisors meeting in Kern County in May which criticized the country for its controversial immigration policies.
Both Josh Norman, of the Washington Redskins, and Demario Davis, of the New Orleans Saints heard about Bello’s plight and pitched in with the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund and the National Bail Network Fund to pay the $50,000 fine, NFL.com reports.
Both organizations are actively working to abolish the cash bail system that has plagued the prison system and given poor people a disadvantage.
Bello, who is in college and also works on a farm, read a poem that in part said:
“I speak for the victims that pay for this scam: Vietnamese, Jamaican, African, Cambodian, Mexican, Salvadoran, on and on, together we stand.
“We demand our respect. We want our dignity back. Our roots run deep in this country, now that’s a true fact.
“I’m here to let you know, we want to feel safe — whether we’re Brown, Asian, or Black. We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want your money. We’re here to work hard, pay taxes, and study.”
Just 36 hours after his recitation, the Bakersfield College student was under arrest and with bail set at a hefty $50,000, even though he only makes $20,000 a year.
On Monday, Bello was released from the Mesa Verde Detention Center.
“Jose Bello was exercising a fundamental right that we pride ourselves on as Americans,” Norman said in a joint statement with the ACLU.
“If he was detained for reciting a peaceful poem then we should really ask ourselves, are our words truly free? This is America right? Where the First Amendment is freedom of speech unless I missed the memo somewhere. He was exercising that right.”
Davis also commented about their joint commitment to doing anything to help the cause.
“Josh and I wanted to do something symbolic to show people know there’s something they can do to help,” Davis told NFL.com.
“With a lot of these cases, people can’t afford to post bail. So you have things like in Mississippi, where  people were rounded up by ICE, and a lot of kids went to school that day and came home and their parents were gone. Everybody knows that’s a messed-up situation, and they wonder what they can do. Well, you can donate to these national organizations that are providing funds to help with bail for these people.”
“That way, at least they have time to be with their families, get a lawyer and get set up, versus being in a situation where nobody is telling them what’s happening with their kids or with their own situation. It’s inhumane to take parents from their children and not tell them what’s going on with their kids. That’s just something that you would not expect to be happening here in America.”
It’s good to see these athletes doing their part to effect change even if it’s one person at a time.