Cabrera, a councilman and a pastor, arrested for protesting a city ban

cabrera-councilman-and-pastor-arrested-protesting-city-ban
Fernando Cabrera. (council.nyc.gov)
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New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera and others were arrested this morning while protesting the city's ban on religious institutions using public school facilities, according to sources.

Cabrera is a pastor who started a church in the Bronx before his election to the Council in 2009. He has been rallying religious leaders to help overturn the ban.

In June, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a church that sued the city in order to be allowed to use a public school after hours for meetings. Late last year, the Supreme Court refused to hear the church's appeal.

During Michael Bloomberg's annual interfaith breakfast last week, one priest stood up to plead with the mayor.

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"We love you Mike, we love you," said the priest, Bill Devlin. "But please don’t kick out our houses of worship from our city schools."

Bloomberg responded: "I hear you—we'll be happy to talk about that."

UPDATE: "I just got out of the precinct," Cabrera just told me in a brief phone interview. "This is the first time I've been arrested for anything. This is a worthy cause."

Cabrera said 10,000 groups could be affected when the city requires religious groups to vacate space they're renting from public schools and the city housing authority. The deadlines for the religious groups to move out are February 12 and 22, respectively.

"Tell me one positive action he's taken toward the faith-based community," Cabrera said. "He's definitely becoming the anti-religious mayor."

Cabrera said more acts of civil disobedience were in the works.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who joined Cabrera at the protest but did not get arrested, told me on a separate call, "The city should find a way to work with the churches."