Hackensack NJ mayor condemns harassment of priest by protesters
Raw video: Protesters rally in Hackensack
A protest in Hackensack moved from outside the Bergen County Jail on December 12, after clashes between police and protesters.
Melanie Anzidei, Editor-in-Chief, @melanieanzidei
HACKENSACK – As ICE protests raged outside Bergen County Jail on Saturday, a handful of protesters harassed a priest they encountered outside a nearby church.
The. Reverend Brian Laffler of St. Anthony’s Church was attending his service in Spanish at 6:30 p.m. when protesters spitting out malicious comments against him, saying he was “going to hell” and that he was “probably a rapist”.
Laffler was escorted by city police who were already there to monitor the demonstration, which was taking place a few blocks away. The incident was captured on a video shared on social media.
Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse said the way Laffler had been treated was unacceptable and the town would deploy additional police officers to protect the church.
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest, the Town of Hackensack will not tolerate harassment from any member of our community, especially our local clergy, who deserve much more respect than Father Laffler does. received Saturday night, “Labrosse said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
Laffler, who could not be reached for comment, was taunted by protesters after telling crowds they were interrupting his 6.30am mass and that his congregation “could not pass because the streets were crowded.” Protesters laughed at him and shouted insults
A city spokesperson said he believed Laffler was not specifically targeted, but unfortunately found himself in the path of unruly protesters.
Demonstrations took place daily since the end of November and are a show of support for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement inmates on hunger strike inside the prison. Protests turned violent on Saturday as police and protesters clashed, with nine people arrested.
“We ask the demonstrators to refrain from entering the grounds of the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua for any reason other than attending religious services and we stand in solidarity with Father Laffler and the whole parish community “said Labrosse on Tuesday.
Laffler founded several community programs, including a summer soccer clinic in conjunction with the city’s recreation department, according to the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce, which honored it last year.
He is fluent in Spanish and initiated the first Spanish Mass for the Church of St. Anthony in 1991. Today the Hispanic population of the church has grown to include 150 families.
Isaiah McCall is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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