In a case of what may turn over a question of who is the Occupied and who the Occupier, Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera was arrested this morning as part of a protest against the New York City Law Department’s decision to evict houses of worship from city-owned properties.
“Today we are seeing the first indication that the churches in New York City, and nationally, are awakening,” Mr. Cabrera said. “Together, we will fight these restrictive laws that discriminate against hundreds of thousands of Church-goers.”
The protest stemmed from decision by the Supreme Court not to hear a case brought by a tiny evangelical church that was banned from conducting worship services at city public schools. Concurrently, the New York City Housing Authority began reviewing how shared spaces are used in their buildings, something which a group of pastors took to me they were getting evicted from space they had been using.
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 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.”
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