Arrested For Protesting Inhumane Budget Proposals

Religious Leaders Arrested At State Capitol While Protesting Budget Cuts

Rebecca Lurye

Rebecca Lurye — Hartford Courant —

Six clergy and seminary members were arrested inside the Capitol on Monday while protesting the state’s planned budget cuts to health care, education and other social services.

They say they were singing “This Little Light of Mine” when they were detained, led by the Rev. John Selders, whose group Moral Monday CT organized the rally. Selders, of Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford, has been arrested during protests a number of times but said he was not aware the group was breaking any laws Monday before he and others were charged with disorderly conduct and interference with the General Assembly.

Lawmakers have said the state budget will not pass by the end of the legislative session Wednesday, but the protesters said proposed cuts will hit children and low-income communities too hard. Instead, they said, lawmakers should find more equitable sources of revenue, like reforming wealth and income-tax systems and passing a tax on sugary beverages.

“This is why we’re here. This is the point, that what’s decided here has real life, real people realities,” Selders said. “Some of these near-austerity measures, they’re just not right.”

Also arrested were the Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey, a Hartford minister and CEO of Bridgeport-based nonprofit the Religious Institute; the Rev. Carleen Gerber of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme; the Rev. Josh Pawelek of Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester; Mike Reardon, a seminary student at Yale University‘s Berkeley Divinity School; and the Rev. Kent Siladi, a conference minister with the United Church of Christ.

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