City & State: Heard Around Town, January 9

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* A protest near Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s town house on Friday had fewer numbers – and less noise – than a protest in his neighborhood in November prompted by the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park. But those who showed up on Friday said it was critical to highlight the city’s arrests and obstruction of journalists covering the Occupy movement. “I think it’s important to have the rest of the city see how the police department abuses their authority, because there was no valid reason to create a frozen zone, and one of the things that is very upsetting is the amount of police officers and police vehicles that were utilized for a small group of peaceful protesters,” said Norm Siegel, a civil rights attorney who showed up to monitor the NYPD, which set up barricades on either end of the mayor’s block and only allowed local residents through. “We will not be able to rest until we liberate 79th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison, and make the no-first-amendment zone a block that is consistent with the principles of the first amendment and the right to peaceful protest,” Siegel said.

* City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who was arrested last week in a civil disobedience action to protest the ban on religious institutions holding events in schools, is planning another disruption. This time, pastors, clergymen, imams and rabbis will participate in an “orderly and peaceful protest” outside Bloomberg‘s State of the City address on Thursday, Cabrera said. “The longer the mayor waits to change his policy, the more he is really galvanizing the religious community,” said Cabrera, who is a pastor himself at New Life Outreach International Church. Cabrera said the religious community would be paying attention to how the disobedience goes on Thursday. “These pastors, rabbis and imams they are watching closely, this is going to be the litmus test of how legislators feel about the religious community,” he said.

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