Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cabrera arrested Thursday morning (UPDATED thrice w/photos)

Cabrera and city pastors pray in front of the law department's building.
City Council Member Fernando Cabrera and a group of around six Pastors from across the city were arrested when participating in a peaceful protest against the New York City Law Department’s stance to evict Houses of Worship from city owned or operated space today.

A spokesperson for Cabrera said they began protesting at 8 a.m., and around 9 a.m. the group was arrested for blocking the entrance.

The Prayer Protest was organized by Pastor Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity New York, which met at the NYCHA Bronx River Houses. The purpose of the rally was to protest the eviction of the Infinity New York Church from the NYCHA Bronx River Houses.

One of Cabrera's New Year's resolutions is to pass legislation that will prevent the eviction of religious groups from public spaces.

After the Supreme Court declined to hear Bronx Household of Faith vs. New York City Department of Education on Dec. 5, 2011, the New York City Department of Education announced it would ban religious worship inside public schools, as permitted by the June 2011 decision of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Subsequently, religious groups have begun to be evicted from other public spaces, including Bronx Bible Church from Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses, and Infinity New York Church from Bronx River Houses.

New York City is the only municipality in the nation that bans Houses of Worship from meeting in public spaces.

“Today we are seeing the first indication that the churches in New York City, and nationally, are awakening,” Cabrera said in a statement. “Together, we will fight these restrictive laws that discriminate against hundreds of thousands of Church-goers.” 

The law department is at 100 Church St., Manhattan. 


A Cabrera spokesperson told us, "It began as a “prayer protest,” and then became an act of Civil Disobedience as several pastors and congregants knelt in prayer. There was significant police presence, as Infinity NY Church had a permit to be there."

PolitickerNY reports that Cabrera was released from jail and had a brief phone interview with him:
According to Sheila Stainback, a spokeswoman for NYCHA, none of the churches who have used their facilities have lease agreements, so “we have not evicted anyone. That language would be incorrect.”
Instead, she said the churches have operated for years in the common spaces –which during the rest of the week residents sign up to hold birthday parties or block association meetings or the like–and that NYCHA is attempting to systematize how those common spaces get used.
Mr. Cabrera, newly sprung from jail, said in a brief phone interview that he didn’t buy it, that instead all the Bloomberg administration and NYCHA were instead using Supreme Court’s actions as a pretext.
“This particular church has been there for six years. They have been a complete positive impact on the community. Why is this happening now,” he said.
“We are getting the perception that we have an anti-religion mayor. I have never been arrested for anything. I don’t even drink beer. This is how desperate I am.” 
City Councilman Jumaane Williams has these photos posted on his Twitter account:

The Twitter account reads:
"@FCabreraNYCC performed his #civildisobedience outside 100 Church Street, #protesting for #NYC's #housesofworship."

1 comment:

  1. The New York City Housing Authority had a meeting with the church pastors involved earlier this week (of January 9) and they came away with a more complete understanding of what is taking place:
    FYI, here’s our official statement:

    “The New York City Housing Authority is not evicting any of the church organizations from our property. These organizations have been using NYCHA space under short-term agreements that have expired according to their terms. We have offered each of the 5 churches an extension to remain at NYCHA facilities, and 4 of the 5 have signed an extension agreement (see list below). For almost a year, NYCHA has been reviewing the terms under which it rents its space to all organizations.”

    Here are the five churches; the East Harlem organization has decided not to ask for an extension:

    The House of the Lord Ministries/Bronx
    Infinity Church/Bronx
    Bronx Bible Church

    Open Door Fellowship of East Harlem
    Sunday Faluyi Congregation/Queens