Animal rights activists struck panic into worshipers at Easter Mass Sunday at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, when they burst out of a pew screaming and holding up signs with pictures of animals.
“Just as the priest began, someone got on a megaphone in the middle of Easter mass at St. Patrick’s,” witness Stephanie Stark tweeted. “Little girl next to me was freaked out.”
“I thought they were going to blow themselves up,” said another worshiper, Carol Forester.
One of the protesters, 23-year-old Jacob Martin, had a camera strapped to his chest, which some of the faithful believed to be an explosive.
“I was terrified,” said Cindy Calitri, 52. “I thought it was a bomb. There was something on his chest with lights flashing.”
Fear of Islamic terror attacks is running high in the aftermath of the most recent bombing in Brussels, and people are understandably on edge.
According to one eyewitness, some people “ran from the church in fright. The possibility of causing a panic and harm was very high.”
Posting on Facebook, Rick Egan wrote: “I was present at this idiocy today with my children. All you did was instil fear and confusion.”
“Your organisation’s actions are reprehensible and irresponsible. The disrespect you showed to others’ beliefs was enormous and as others have stated only demonstrated your poor judgement and irrational states of mind,” he wrote.
The protesters were shouting, “Easter is a time for love! No more shedding animal blood!” though why they chose a Christian service for their protest was not immediately evident.
One protester, Raffaella Ciavatta, said: “Ham is a big thing on Easter, so that’s why we decided to bring those voices to the public.”
At least one of the protesters was arrested and charged with interrupting a religious service, according to police reports.
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