Dozens of Catholic clergy were arrested on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning, marking the latest in a series of civil disobedience actions against poor treatment of immigrants in federal border detention facilities.
An organizer with Faith in Action said 70 people attending its “Catholic Day of Action” risked arrest inside the Russell Senate Office Building over the span of an hour, chanting and praying while defying orders from Capitol police to disperse. On Wednesday afternoon, Capitol police confirmed 70 people had been arrested for unlawfully demonstrating and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” under D.C. law, which typically carries a small post-and-forfeit fine.
Protesters held pictures of at least six immigrant children known to have died in U.S. custody since early last year. Several people lay down in the Russell building’s rotunda, forming a cross while others sang hymns as police slowly rallied to detain them with plastic handcuffs.
The Catholic-led event in D.C. comes days after Jewish activists with Never Again Action were arrested during their own civil disobedience actions, within both the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“Images of immigrant children detained in cages, separated from family members, and living in unsanitary, unhealthy conditions have outraged the nation in recent days,” Faith in Action said on its Facebook invite.
“The faith community has decried this treatment of children not only as a violation of human dignity and rights, but also as contrary to religious teachings and the sacred call to care for people who are most at risk, especially children.”
I’m on Capitol Hill where Catholic clergy are ready to risk arrest against poor conditions in border detention. Comes after similar Jewish-led actions. #CatholicDayOfAction pic.twitter.com/cJx40ZOMXA
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) July 18, 2019
Leaders of multiple faiths have been holding sit-ins and marches near ICE and Customs and Border Protection facilities around the country, as reports continue to emerge of unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in federal detention centers.