‘This is really wrong:’ Community reacts to Youngstown businessman’s arrest

"Right now, you are making Youngstown a sh**hole city by taking this man away from his family," said one woman, addressing President Trump.

Al Adi, Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Less than two weeks ago, friends and family of Amer “Al” Adi Othman were celebrating. At that time, Adi learned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had delayed his deportation. But on Tuesday, everyone learned about his arrest — and they are in shock.

Fidaa Musleh stood before 50 people Tuesday night at the Circle Hookah and Bar, which her husband, Al Adi, owns in downtown Youngstown. The crowd held up signs, claiming his arrest was unjust.

“I can’t even believe people can be so cruel. I didn’t think it was possible to be so inhumane,” Musleh said.

Her comments came nine hours after her husband was arrested at the ICE office in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn Heights. She was there, too.

“We walk in, the officers, he says, ‘Let’s get to the point, we’re taking you into custody.’ We were so surprised. Why?” she said.

ICE didn’t give a reason and Adi is now in the Geauga County Jail, awaiting deportation back to his native Jordan.

“They’re going out of their way to humiliate him and treat him like an animal. I mean, this is absolutely insane,” Congressman Tim Ryan said.

Craig Ballmer, an employee at Adi’s business — Downtown Circle and Convenience — said he just talked to Adi last night. Ballmer said they were all hopeful and praying for him.

“I told him how good I felt about what was going to happen today and, obviously, it didn’t turn that way. We’re all shocked and surprised but we have a saying here — ‘never give up’ — and we’re not going to give up this fight.”

The deportation came because of claims that his first marriage was fraudulent.

“The ex-wife has her affidavit and she explains in 14 pages that this was not a sham marriage, but they never gave him a day in court,” Musleh said.

“For the first time in my legal career, I walked out of a meeting with the government absolutely terrified for this country,” said Adi’s lawyer, Atty. David Leopold.

One of Al’s daughters was asked Tuesday what she would say to her father if she could talk to him.

“I’m sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve that,” she said.

Adi’s neighbor, Phyllis Montmore, described him as a caring family man.

“When I saw that today, I started shaking, literally. Literally, I was shaking. I was upset, and I was crying and I was so upset. He is a wonderful neighbor, he’s a wonderful man.”

A Downtown Circle customer doesn’t think Adi should have been taken into custody.

“They should go after people that do wrong in the community,” Karen Harris said. “Al has done a great job for a lot of people here and helping people.”

Cheryl Kelly, of Youngstown, attended the gathering Tuesday night and addressed President Trump.

“Right now, you are making Youngstown a sh**hole city by taking this man away from his family.”

“I was shocked. I was hurt. I’m very hurt by this system,” Montmore said. “This is wrong. This is really wrong.”

Those at the gathering say Adi is no threat. He wore a tracking device on an ankle bracelet so ICE could see his every move.

Musleh said Adi is going on a hunger strike until he’s released from jail. We do not know when they plan to deport him.


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