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Bronx Councilman Cabrera Arrested During ‘Prayer Protest’ This Morning (Updated with Photos)

Councilman Fernando Cabrera being arrested this morning for trespassing during a peaceful protest in front of NYC Law Department's building downtown. (Photo courtesy of Cabrera's office)Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera was arrested this morning along with six other pastors while protesting a city policy that they say is now excluded religious groups from worshiping inside city-run buildings.

At about 8 a.m. this morning, Cabrera, a pastor himself who represents the 14th Council District (which includes Kingsbridge, University Heights, Mt. Hope and Morris Heights), went downtown with around 20 other people to rally in front of the New York City Law Department at 100 Church St. The “Prayer Protest” was organized by Pastor Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity New York, which was recently evicted from the NYCHA-managed Bronx River Houses.

James Duffy, a spokesman for the NYPD, said that at around 8:30 a.m., Cabrera and six other pastors sat in front of the entrance to the building, blocking the entrance. After repeated warnings to move, Duffy said police arrested the seven protesters for “trespassing” and took them to the local precinct. Cabrera was released later this morning, according to his staff. (Duffy said trespassing is a minor “violation.”)

A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed that several people were arrested in front of the law department’s office for obstructing traffic, although they said charges are still pending. The spokesperson wouldn’t say whether Cabrera was among those arrested.

Kate O’Brien-Ahlers, the communications director for the law department, said she was aware of the protests outside of their offices, but not the arrests. She said it didn’t seem like the protesters were getting out of control.

Cabrera was handcuffed by police and arrested after repeated warning to move from the entrance to 100 Church St. where he and six other pastors were protesting. (Photo courtesy Cabrera's office)Following a court decision that upheld a city policy banning religious groups from worshiping inside public school buildings, Cabrera said the city is now evicting churches from other city-owned property, including Infinity from the Bronx River Houses and the Bronx Bible Church from the Justic Sonia Sotomayor Houses in Soundview.

O’Brien-Ahlers said the law department worked on the case to prevent from worship in public schools, did not direct NYCHA to evict the churches from NYCHA-owned buildings. She did say the NYCHA was in the process of re-evaluating its permitting process for all groups that use their public spaces. (She said the churches don’t have leases with NYCHA. They apply for permits to use the public spaces in the buildings.

NYCHA did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Cabrera adamantly opposes the city’s ban on worshiping inside government property and is working with state lawmakers to have the policy changed.

Cabrera’s office says “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,” said Cabrera in a statement about this mornings protest. “Together, we will fight these restrictive laws that discriminate against hundreds of thousands of Church-goers.”

Stay tuned.

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10 thoughts on “Bronx Councilman Cabrera Arrested During ‘Prayer Protest’ This Morning (Updated with Photos)

  1. Manuel

    You go Councilman!

    It seems like councilmen are being arrested left and right these days.. but this cause is actually worth it! This is not a christian church thing.. This law keeps all groups from using these public spaces.. Literally making churches, synagogues, mosques and temples HOMELESS.. along with their congregants.. Thats just plain ridiculous. Maybe they should offer these groups a “bailout” and give them money to rent a new retail space in this horrid economy.. HA. Fat chance.

  2. Angela

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Did they WANT TO be arrested? For attention? For publicity? They were asked to move from blocking the entrance and refused. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT JESUS WOULD DO!! This is so sad & an embarrassment to Christians. There are ways to do things & breaking the law isn’t it. NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS EDIFYING — NOTHING ABOUT THIS BEHAVIOR IS GLORIFYING TO GOD. |||| I support overturning the ban BUT I do NOT SUPPORT “pastors” acting immaturely & breaking the law in order to get attention. AND WORSE YET – Christians patting them on the back & affirming their actions. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Compare your actions to SCRIPTURE, “PASTORS”!!!

  3. u Can Call Me James....................James Bond!

    Hi Angela,

    May i ask what it is you are doing to help the cause besides trying to judge the motive of others that are trying to make a difference and bring awareness?.

    Please share!

  4. Eric V

    For Angela to speak on all the facts would not be fair being that your only reading half of what transpired. It was a PEACEFUL Protest and when you bring up Jesus I’m pretty sure your mentioning the same Jesus that uprooted store fronts and shops in front of the temple. I know the councilman and his family personally and I can tell you his faith and love for the Lord is unwavering. I support wholeheartedly what he and the other pastors did and I’ve served my country and fought to protect these freedoms not just for Christians but for all United States Citizens.

  5. Dee M.

    In regards to Angela’s quick response. In John 2:13-17, the bible states Jesus overturned tables and drove out sheep and cattle with a whip and threw money when the temple was being made into a market by men. What these pastors did was definitely something Jesus would do. On another note I have walked passed 100 Church street many times and I highly doubt 7 men blocked admittance in this building considering the front has 2 sets of revolving doors and 2 pull and push entrances right next to the revolving doors. We all have the right to a peacefully protest no matter the cause, my only regret is not being there alongside my fellow brothers in Christ, praying that churches do not be removed from public spaces, especially places where the presence of God is needed most!

  6. Bea D

    You want to preach the Gospel, build or find a church, pastors. Public schools are secular institutions, bound by law not to promote any religion, and that’s the way it should be.

  7. Patricia

    The US Constitution’s “Seperation of Church & State” was written to protect houses of worhsip & churches from the tierney of government. It was intended to keep government out of churches & not the other way around.

  8. C. FIscher

    Angela, I think you need to re-read the gospels. Jesus is the most confrontational person that ever walked the planet. He stood nose to nose against the establishments of His day. Um…remember the tables that He overturned and the whip He made??? He is not only a lamb, but a lion. THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH!

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