An 84-year-old rabbi was arrested Friday while protesting outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Philadelphia, according to Slate news website. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal movement, was detained along with six other people by police for temporarily blocking access to the ICE office.
The group, known as Elders and Friends Standing With Immigrant Children and Their Parents, was protesting U.S. President Donald Trump's administration policy of separating migrant children from their parents upon illegal entry to the U.S.]
The demonstrators were apparently arrested after managing to prevent entry to the office for two hours. A video posted on Twitter shows the group chose to submit to arrest when police arrived. They were issued citations for "failure to disperse" and were discharged shortly after.
Helen Gym, a Philadelphia City councilmember, twitted a video of a man identified as Waskow presenting his hands to be cuffed by a police officer. The officer then helps Waskow, who walks with a cane, stand up and escorts him to the detention van.
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Gym's caption commemorated Waskow, calling him a hero. In a previous tweet, she quoted Waskow as saying: “We understand that by the local law what we are doing violates that and we see it as the freest thing we can do is to submit to arrest at this moment.”
A second Twitter post shows Waskow speaking before the crowd prior to his arrest: “Criminals are living in the White House who would tear away even nursing children from their mother’s breasts we implore you as citizens to be aware of the criminals that are wrecking the decent lives of decent families. If you need to arrest us so be it, but remember who the real criminals are.”
In the Jewish world, Waskow has been known for many years as a progressive and liberal pioneer who has promoted full equality for women and the LGBTQ community in Judaism. He has promoted Jewish and general opposition to the Vietnam and Iraqi wars, and is a long-time advocate of a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Last week, A judge in California ordered U.S. border authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days, setting a hard deadline in a process that has so far yielded uncertainty about when children might again see their parents.
More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks and placed in government-contracted shelters — hundreds of miles away, in some cases — under a now-abandoned policy toward families caught illegally entering the U.S.
Amid an international outcry, Trump signed an executive order to stop the separation of families and said parents and children will instead be detained together.