An 85-year-old rabbi was arrested Friday while protesting outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Philadelphia, according to the 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.
Rabbi Waskow is a hero today and has been to all of us his entire life. ?? #AbolishICE #ShutDownBerks pic.twitter.com/lDhFIhhg96— Helen Gym (@HelenGym2015) June 29, 2018
The group, known as Elders and Friends Standing With Immigrant Children and Their Parents, was protesting President 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.
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.”
Full video of Rabbi Waskow: “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.” #AbolishICE #ShutDownBerks pic.twitter.com/rhneqVVBgZ— Helen Gym (@HelenGym2015) June 29, 2018
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.