Several area rabbis were among more than 30 protesters arrested April 13 in downtown Los Angeles for an act of civil disobedience to call attention to the treatment of undocumented immigrants.
The group was taken away after blocking a driveway to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) Los Angeles, booked at Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) headquarters and released by mid-afternoon.
Bend the Arc Rabbi-in-Residence Aryeh Cohen said the act of civil disobedience demonstrated a refusal to accept Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) treatment of undocumented immigrants.
“What it says to ICE, the institution, is that we are intending to put our bodies in between them and … deportations and detentions of people who have been in this country for a long time,” Cohen said in a phone interview. “I think what it said to LAPD is our fight is not with them but with ICE.”
The protest, which began around 10 a.m. several blocks away, brought together Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders and community members who chanted, “Exodus from detention!” as they marched toward the Detention Center, from where vans leave to round up immigrants. The center, itself, is a federal jail downtown that holds individuals for immigration-related crimes, among other offenses.
Participants in the protest, which came on the third day of Passover, drew parallells between the Israelites’ Exodus story from bondage to liberation and the plight of undocumented immigrants who live in fear of being detained.
“I’m standing with my brothers and sisters in faith … on behalf of the undocumented and the refugee and immigrant communities that are being targeted now. Especially now during Passover, it is time we remember our own liberation,” Rabbi Sarah Bassin, associate rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, told the Journal, as she was locking arms with Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Susan Goldberg, before their arrest.
Approximately 200 members of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and other faith-based social organizations turned out.
Among those arrested were Bassin, Goldberg, Cohen; Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, director emeritus at Hillel at UCLA; and Rabbi Susan Laemmle, dean of religious life at USC.
Goldberg said the purpose of blocking the entrance to the detention center was to prevent ICE vehicles from doing roundups.
I don’t recall these rabbis going to Israel and getting arrested preventing Israeli law enforcement from rounding up and expelling illegal immigrants.