ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Sister Grace Miller of the House of Mercy says when she arrived at the Hotel Cadillac on Tuesday night, she was surprised by the large police presence.
“We were shocked, because as far as we knew, the police were telling us it was OK to be doing what we were doing," Miller said.
Sister Grace says when she crossed the tape to check on those protesters, she and another volunteer were taken into custody.
“They said if we went beyond the tape that we’d be arrested," Miller said. "Well, we did go beyond the tape so they arrested Sister Rita and myself, and put us in the paddy wagon.”
Police say three people, including another individual, were temporarily detained for trying to interfere with them clearing beds and trash blocking the outer doors. No one was charged, but Miller and others gathered outside the hotel Wednesday to call the action a gross overuse of force.
“We didn’t do anything to cause the police to come here last night," Miller said. "We were all very peaceful, we kept this place cleaner than it’s been. You can see for yourself how clean it is. We weren’t causing any problems.”
Miller claims Mayor Lovely Warren (D) ordered the police there, who she was going to meet with Friday to discuss the homelessness in the city, but that meeting came a little sooner than expected.
Warren denied the claims that she ordered the police and that the police were only doing their job.
“When a private property owner comes and says somebody is trespassing on their property, and they want these people removed, they have an obligation to uphold the law," Warren said.
She also says she agreed the poor needed affordable housing, but things got heated. Warren says she has worked with Miller on the issue of homelessness for two years, and still intends to.
“You cannot one hand say let’s work together, and then on the other hand, do something like this," Warren said. "I think it’s wrong, I’m very, very hurt by it. And I’m truly ashamed it’s come to where it is today.”
Miller says she didn’t mean to personally attack Warren.
“We’re trying to draw attention to the fact that our city, our county, our state, the churches and the people of our community need to come out and help and speak up for the poor and defenseless who can’t speak for themselves,” Miller said.
Warren and Miller both say they still intend to meet Friday.