05/17/2010 07:06 PM
By: Rebecca Spitz
More than a dozen people were taken into police custody Monday during a protest that brought traffic to a halt in Lower Manhattan.
Among the 16 arrested in front of 26 Federal Plaza were clergy members, local leaders and City Council members.
The act of civil disobedience aimed to put pressure on President Barack Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. It was also meant to stop the Arizona law that criminalizes illegal immigrants and to propose a moratorium on deportation.
Participants linked arms and walked onto Broadway and Thomas Street, temporarily interfering with the flow of afternoon traffic.
When they refused to move, despite the fact that police warned them they would be charged with disorderly conduct, all 16 were handcuffed and taken into custody to be processed.
City Councilman Jumani Williams and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez were among those arrested.
"We believe this struggle is a struggle of everyone," Rodriguez said. "We are here to participate in the civil disobedience. This is only the beginning. From this day on, every Monday there's going to be another elected official and religious leaders participating in civil disobedience."
"We have religious leaders and elected officials who are willing to lose their freedom for a few hours and it could potentially be for a few days to demand that Obama prevent the implementation of the law in Arizona," said Angela Fernandez, immigrants rights advocate.
The arrests followed a rally that was held by local clergy with the same message.
Monday's demonstration was the first of three planned acts of civil disobedience.
The group is planning to come back next Monday and says even more people will be arrested.