PAINESVILLE - A heads up from the Ohio Highway Patrol: If you're drinking and driving in Painesville on Saturday, there's a good chance you'll be caught.
An OVI checkpoint is planned in a place that's raising a few eyebrows.
A local group will be out watching for what they call "civil rights violations."
Here's their concern: The checkpoint will be at Richmond and Jackson streets, right in the heart of a neighborhood that is heavily Hispanic.
In fact it gets its name, "Little Mexico" because of the unmistakable rich culture.
The checkpoint is at a heavily traveled main vein through Painesville, but there are some who are questioning the motive of a police checkpoint there.
People like Juan Soto, a father of five who has lived in Painesville 24 years. People like Kelsey Fischer who just moved to Painesville with her husband.
"We saw Painesville as a place that's wonderfully diverse and has a lot of potential economically. That has a lot to do with fact that the entrepreneurs are immigrants," says Fischer
That's exactly why she started a warning email chain as soon as she heard about an OVI checkpoint Saturday in Painesville at Richmond and Jackson from 9:00 p.m. to midnight.
"While it's a DUI checkpoint, if they come across someone who doesn't have an operator's license they can arrest and jail that person and call ICE," says Fischer. On Tuesday they'll be deported. That's certain. if they're here illegally."
"They're looking for an excuse to pull you over especially now with the new government. These are people who have lived here for years, work hard, trying to provide a better life for their families," Soto adds.
So Kelsey and her friend Maria will be working with HOLA Hispanics of Lorain and Ashtabula Saturday night to have what they call "civil rights observers" at the checkpoint.
Lt. Charles Gullett with the Chardon post of the Ohio Highway Patrol makes it very clear that won't be necessary.
"It's to deter people from drinking and driving. We're not out to violate anyone's civil rights. We don't even ask for driver's licenses unless we believe you've been drinking," says Gullett.
"Well, we'll be just watching and noting how many arrests they make. No plans to obstruct, just to observe," says Fischer.
She believes it's not too dramatic in feeling that the diversity and economy of Painesville is at stake.
"We recognize the value of that and worry about what's going to happen to the community if the police continue to cooperate with ICE more than they are required to by law".
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