Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Easter Mass at New York’s iconic cathedral


A group of protesters disrupted the Easter Mass at the famous Cathedral of St. Patrick’s in downtown New York. They shouted the slogan: “Free Palestine”. The police dealt with the protesters and they were charged with disturbing a religious ceremony. The same protesters have drawn attention to themselves before, for example during last year’s US Open tennis tournament.

The so-called Easter Vigil was celebrated in the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday, commemorating and making present the resurrection of Christ. However, its progress was interrupted by a group of protesters who started shouting the slogan: “Free Palestine” during the second song. At the same time, they pulled out a poster that read: SILENCE = DEATH.

The police arrived at the scene before nine o’clock in the evening (this mass traditionally begins after sunset). The protesters were quickly escorted away and the service was allowed to continue. Police told the New York Post that 31-year-old Matthew Menzies, 35-year-old Gregory Schwedock and 63-year-old John Rozendaal, among others, were arrested. They were accused of disturbing a religious ceremony.

At the same time, the NYP mentions that these cases are not completely unknown persons. Gregory Schwedock was arrested last September during the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament. During the women’s semi-final match, he and other protesters stuck their feet to the ground outside Arthur Ashe Stadium during a protest against fossil fuels. Their action delayed the game by about 50 minutes. Rozendaal was arrested in April after spray-painting a sign accusing the institution of climate crimes on a Citibank window. According to the NYP, at least some of the protesters are affiliated with the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion.

Many of those attending the Mass, led by New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, did not react to the disruption, but some gathered outside the church felt Saturday night’s demonstration was disrespectful, the NYP reports. “We must all respect the religion of others. There are other ways to express your opinion,” he told the server on Saturday evening in front of St. Patrika Arturo Ballester, a 59-year-old man from Brooklyn.

Another churchgoer, who did not want to be named, said she thought the activists should go demonstrate elsewhere. “Not inside the church. Outside they can be free as they please. The situation in Gaza is really bad, but this is a refuge for us. Have some respect, please,” a churchgoer told NYP.

The article is in Czech

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