Gabriella Perez, left, attends a rally for her grandfather, Ruben Vera Perez, who was detained by immigration agents in Astoria in December.

About 50 people with teddy bears, candles and American flags gathered at the Astoria Riverwalk on Friday in a vigil for Ruben Vera Perez, an Astoria man detained by immigration agents in December.

The vigil was organized by local activists and clergy to help raise money to support Perez’s family while he’s detained.

On Dec. 14, Ruben Perez appeared in Circuit Court downtown to handle a probation matter. Last year, Perez had been arrested and charged with drunken driving. Ruben Perez was detained by immigration agents while his wife, Maria Perez, was driving him to the jail to check in with a pretrial release officer.

“I don’t wish this feeling on anybody,” Maria Perez said at the vigil with her daughter and granddaughter by her side.

A GoFundMe page is being circulated by Indivisible North Coast Oregon and a tamale fundraiser is being held by the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council to help the family pay bills while he’s detained.

The teddy bears people brought to the vigil will be sent to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden in a call to bring attention to detention policies in the United States.

“There has to be a better way,” said Kit Ketcham, a pastor at Pacific Unitarian Universalist. “We call for mercy, peace and hope.”

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