Nearly two dozen clergy members were arrested in Los Angeles Tuesday as they protested the Trump administration’s immigration policies and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ planned visit to the area.
The religious leaders from different faith backgrounds linked arms to block Spring St. near a federal courthouse as police ordered them to disperse.
With cops threatening immediate arrest, they sat down side-by-side in the street in an act of civil disobedience organized by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), a spokeswoman for the group told the Daily News.
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen was one of the clergy members hauled away in plastic cuffs. Speaking to The News after his release, Cohen said he was one of 23 total clergy members cited with an infraction for failing to follow a lawful order.
“The policies of Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump are wreaking havoc on our communities and families. We decided we had to put our bodies on the line in front of him today and say, ‘You do not pass here,’” he told the Daily News.
He said Rabbi Sarah Bassin of Temple Emanuel Beverly Hills and Father Richard Estrada from Our Lady Queen of Angels in downtown Los Angeles were also arrested.
Video from the scene posted by KPCC’s Josie Huang showed the protesting clergy sitting down in the street to cheers from nearby activists. Some of the clergy urged the officers against the arrests, while other demonstrators shouted out “thank you” in both Spanish and English to clergy members.
“It was an exhilarating sight. The members of the faith community were calling into question the morality of this administration’s immigration policies,” Jorge-Mario Cabrera, whose group CHIRLA helped organize the larger protest, told The News.
“Mr. Sessions is the enforcer of cruel immigration policies, and we were there to tell him his policies are not welcome in Los Angeles.”
Demonstrators also descended on the nearby Millennium Biltmore Hotel, where Sessions gave a speech at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundations annual luncheon Tuesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Times and photos posted on social media.
Sessions announced in April that the Department of Justice would embrace a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which would allow for the criminal prosecution of those caught trying to enter the United States without authorization. It resulted in thousands of children being separated from family members caught crossing the border.
The Attorney General cited the bible in his defense of the practice and justified it as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
President Trump last week signed an executive order that put an end to the family separations after days of claiming only Congress could change the widely contested move. The order did not make clear how already separated children would be reunited with their parents.
With News Wire Services