Father James Manship of St. Rosa of Lima Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn. pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with police. Father Manship was arrested by police in nearby East Haven after videotaping town police officers who he claims have been harassing Latino immigrants for a period of several months.
The case once again puts Connecticut at the center of the debate over the treatment of undocumented immigrants. In 2007 New Haven became the first city in the nation to offer ID cards to undocumented residents, allowing them access to municipal services. The Elm City Resident Cards have drawn sharp criticism and court challenges. In communities near New Haven, some say the hostility toward Latino immigrants goes even further.
“My arrest is the tip of a toxic iceberg of racial profiling by East Haven police,” Manship told reporters at a press conference following his court hearing.
On February 19th, police ordered owners of My Country Store, a Latino-owned market in East Haven, to remove license plates that they had used to decorate store windows, claiming they were inappropriately using government property.
Manship, who was in the store, began to film the officers, who then arrested him, claiming that they believed the priest was holding a weapon. (The New Haven Independent’s website has the police report.)