Bay Area clergy protest for immigration reform

Posted on August 3, 2010

 On Wednesday, July 28, the day Arizona's new immigration law went into effect, a rally was held on the sidewalk outside the San Francisco Federal Building which houses Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office.

The crowd included representatives from many groups, including labor unions, community organizers, San Francisco supervisors, and faith leaders from around the Bay Area. Most of the faith leaders present were Episcopal clergy, including two bishops: the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, bishop of California, and the Rt. Rev. Otis Charles, retired bishop of Utah.

 Carrying signs with slogans such as "Who would Jesus deport?" and "Love the immigrant as yourself! Lev. (19:33–34)," the religious leaders were a significant part of the event. After leading the crowd in prayer, some clergy walked into the middle of 7th Street and sat down. This civil disobedience had been negotiated with the San Francisco Police Department in advance. The police, anticipating street closure, moved quickly to redirect traffic around the block at 7th and Mission Streets and they escorted the protesting clergy, one-by-one, out of the street.

Andrus and many clergy from throughout the Diocese of California have participated in other rallies supporting comprehensive immigration reform, and several liturgies have taken place at Grace Cathedral and other diocesan churches prayerfully addressing issues of immigration and justice. Andrus did not participate in the civil disobedience, but six Episcopal priests and deacons were cited for disobedience of a traffic officer (a misdemeanor) and jaywalking (an infraction).