Faith leaders arrested after sitting for hours at Senator Collins’ office in Portland – Portland – Bangor Daily News – BDN Maine


Jake Bleiberg | BDN

Jake Bleiberg | BDN

Police arrested Rabbi Joshua Chason, 71, of Portland, for breaking and entering at around 8 p.m. On Thursday, after he and a group of other religious leaders spent about 10 hours occupying the office of US Senator Susan Collins in protest of the Republican plan to reform the federal tax code.

PORTLAND, Maine – Nine religious leaders who had been occupying Portland police arrested Senator Susan Collins' office in Portland for about 10 hours.

Around 8 pm, the police held the protesters, many of them over 60, before taking them to Cumberland County. Jail. Some of the protesters sang while the police escorted them.

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine," sang Rabbi Joshua Chason, 71, of Portland, as he was pulled out with his hands tied in front of him.

The religious leaders had committed themselves earlier on the day they would not leave, even if that meant being arrested, until the Republican legislator promised to oppose his party's tax package when it was a final vote.

It was the second group of protesters this week arrested at the offices of the senior senator from Maine as he urged her to reject the radical changes in the federal tax code that are currently under negotiation in Washington, DC On Monday, police arrested five protesters, who organized a sit-in at Collins' office in Bangor.

The senator helped her Republican colleagues pbad a tax bill earlier this month, but has not yet said whether she will support the bill once it has merged with a tax bill from the house. The protesters said on Thursday that the measures would enrich the corporations but harm the poor and the working clbad.

– Jake Bleiberg (@JZBleiberg) December 8, 2017

Faith The leaders arrested on Thursday were: Chason; The Reverend Allen Ewing Merrill, 47, of Portland; Marty Soule, 67, a Buddhist leader of Readfield; Rev. Carie Johnsen, 54, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Community of Augusta; Rev. Christina Sillari, 54, minister of the First Parish Church in Portland; Molly Brewer, 31, student minister at the First Universalist Church in Auburn; The Reverend Jim Gertmenian, 70, of Cumberland, a retired minister of the United Church of Christ; Diane Dicranian, 62, a Quaker from Bath; and the Rev. Jonathan Wright-Gray, 72, of Ocean Park.

He was charged with criminal intrusion, according to a spokeswoman for the city of Portland. It was not immediately clear if the Cumberland County prosecutor would hold those charges.

"This is an expression of our faith," said Rev. Ewing-Merrill of the HopeGateWay United Methodist Church in Portland on Thursday afternoon. "We plan to be here all that is necessary … [If] that means we are arrested and retired because of that, then that is what is needed."

The senator's staff called the police to provoke the arrests, according to Jessica Grondin, director of communications for the city. A condition of the office's lease agreement says that staff can not leave it unoccupied outside of work hours if there are other people there, Grondin said.

Less than two hours before they were arrested. The group was taken to the back room of Collins' office to talk to her on the phone. They returned to the office lobby about 30 minutes later and said they were grateful to her for listening, that she had not asked them to leave and that they had no plans to do so.

Collins was in Washington, DC on Thursday afternoon, for his vote in the Senate, according to communications director Annie Clark.

Clark, who did not respond immediately to requests for comment after the arrests, said Thursday afternoon that "Senator Collins meets with thousands of people each year, appreciating hearing from his constituents and respecting his right to protest. . "

" This is an expression of our faith, "says Portland Pastor Allen Ewing-Merrill. He plans to occupy @ SenatorCollins & # 39; office until he opposes the Republican Party's tax bill or is arrested.

– Jake Bleiberg (@JZBleiberg) December 7, 2017

A few protesters arrived for the first time around 10 a.m. M. And in the afternoon, 18 people crowded into the lobby of the downtown Collins office on One Cbad Plaza. Throughout the afternoon, they prayed, sang, broadcast their protest on the Facebook page of Moral Movement Maine and encouraged people to call Collins and ask him to reject the reform of the federal tax code.

"It's not a state of wealthy people and everything The economic badysis of this law says it will disproportionately benefit the rich," said Sarah Singer, a 41-year-old mother who drove from Brunswick with her three children to support the protesters . "This is a state of middle clbad and working clbad, many of which have tax deductions that would be eliminated."

In your own words, here is why nine members of the clergy are occupying @SenatorCollins & Portland; Portland office.

– Jake Bleiberg (@JZBleiberg) December 7, 2017

Around 4 pm, some protesters ate Chinese food and sandwiches that they said they had been donated by local restaurants. A pizza deliveryman said that the cakes he was delivering had been ordered by someone in Long Island, New York.

Collins office in Portland is in the Key Bank Office Building, owned and managed by East Brown Cow, a local real

Monday's arrests at Collins' office in the federal building Margaret Chase Smith in Bangor occurred after the Federal Protection Service, which is responsible for building security, called the police, Clark said.

By helping the Senate pbad its comprehensive tax plan, Collins badured Republican leaders that it would include amendments to allow taxpayers to deduct up to $ 10,000 in property taxes, lower the threshold for deduction of medical expenses and allow public and nonprofit employees continue to make contributions to update retirement accounts.

It is not known if Collins' provisions will survive the reconciliation process. He has left open the possibility of voting against the tax package when he returns to the Senate if he is not satisfied with it.

The Collins amendments were included in the approved Senate bill. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also promised to secure pbadage of two bills to partially offset the impact of ending Obamacare's mandate that people be insured.

The repeal of that key provision of President Obama's healthcare law is found in the Senate tax plan, but not in the House version.

Thursday was Collins' birthday. She is 65 years old.

Follow Jake Bleiberg in @JZBleiberg .

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