Protesters of Church Closing Arrested

If the protests in Boston are any indiciation, this is only the beginning of the backlash.

February 14, 2007
From the New York Times
A Church Protest Ends Quickly, but the Anger Is Likely to Endure By JAMES BARRON

“Carmen Villegas did not expect the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York to send burly guards into her church, Our Lady Queen of Angels, but it did. She did not expect to be at the center of a chaotic scene, shouting at church officials and flinging open the front door of the church, but she was.

She did not expect to be arrested, but she was, after she refused to leave.

And she did not expect the archdiocese to close her beloved East Harlem church, two weeks early, but late Monday night, that is exactly what it did.

“We wanted a peaceful vigil,” she said yesterday after some sleep and a change of clothes. “Things changed because the diocese — the tactics it used were so inappropriate.”

Ms. Villegas and some fellow parishioners occupied the sanctuary for about 28 hours, protesting the archdiocese’s plan to shut down Our Lady Queen of Angels on March 1. Late Monday, police officers led Ms. Villegas and five other parishioners out of the red-brick church in plastic handcuffs. They were given summonses for trespassing.

They had decided to remain in the church after it became clear that anyone who did not leave would be arrested. The others in a crowd of about 40 left, with some saying they feared deportation if arrested.

“I can’t believe that they would go to such lengths to get us out of the church when all we were doing was praying, all we were doing was singing, all we were doing was trying to protect where we’ve gone to church,” said Patricia Rodriguez, 43, one of the six arrested.”

Posted Under: Church, East Harlem

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