Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

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Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:10 pm

Gotta love my state:

Image

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_dnainfo/b ... hon=501,ny

CHINATOWN — A Buddhist nun giving out prayer beads on Canal Street to raise money to rebuild her burned down temple was arrested and detained her for several hours without an interpreter, she told DNAinfo.

Police charged Baojing Li, 48, with acting as an unlicensed vendor, a misdemeanor. They claim she hawked costume jewelry at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets on June 2 without a license from the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

But the religious woman, who wears a traditional Buddhist robe and has a shaven head, says she was not selling the 50-cent strands of prayer beads, but handing them out to generous people who dropped donations in her collection tin.

Li said she had a sign placed next to her stool — written in red Chinese calligraphy — telling would-be donors that she needed help rebuilding her temple and home in Chamblee, in Georgia. The building burned down on March 26, according to the official fire incident report.

The Chinese native, who came to the U.S. to do missionary work in 1996, wept as she said police approached her on the street, handcuffed her and took her to the Midtown South precinct where she said she was held for four hours without knowing what was happening.

"I had no idea what [was] going on. I don't know," Li said in her lawyer's office Monday, fighting back tears while telling the story through a translator. "Nobody explained whatsoever," she added.

Li was issued a desk appearance ticket and ordered to appear in Midtown Community Court on July 7. If convicted, she could face up to three months in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Her attorney, Robert Brown, said he agreed to take Li's case pro bono after hearing her story.

Li came to New York in April in hopes of getting help from Manhattan's large Chinese population, she said.

She has been living at an East Broadway Buddhist temple, and has already raised $10,000 of the $30,000 she needs thanks to donations from New Yorkers and coverage in the Chinese-language press, she said.

Brown added that a passerby tried to intervene during the arrest, telling police that she was raising money for charity and not selling the beads, but the explanation fell on deaf ears.

Brown said Li was swept up by the NYPD's Manhattan South peddlers task force, and that the police reaction could have been driven by a misunderstanding of Buddhist culture.

"If this were a Catholic nun (with) rosary beads I think they would have realized the religious significance a little more," Brown said.

"The police in this case exhibited an astounding lack of common sense," he added.

The district attorney's office would not comment on Li's case or whether they'll pursue the charges.

The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby gnegirl » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:19 am

*facepalm*
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:53 am

speechless...
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Re: Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:59 am

This is actually good advertisement ...she will most likely get enough donations to rebuild the temple now ! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:22 am

good point ;)
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Re: Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads in NY

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:38 pm

http://www.dnainfo.com/20110718/lower-e ... -dismissed

Charges Against Buddhist Nun Dismissed

MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — A Buddhist nun arrested while handing out prayer beads for donations to rebuild her burned down temple can finally get back to completing her mission.

Prosecutors on Monday moved to dismiss charges against Baojing Li, 48, a spiritual leader whose Atlanta-area home and place of worship was badly damaged in a March fire.

Li came to Manhattan to solicit help from the city's large Chinese community and has been staying at an East Broadway house of worship since the fire. She was handing out 50-cent beads from China at Canal and Mott Streets when she was arrested on June 2.

Police from a Midtown task force assigned to crack down on unlicensed vendors spotted her and accused her of selling "costume jewelry." She was charged with a misdemeanor, a conviction which could have caused her immigration problems.

She was held at a Midtown precinct for several hours, her lawyer said.

Last week, prosecutors agreed to offer Li an "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," a deal which effectively dismissed the charges at her brief court appearance on Monday. She was not required to do community service or pay any fee.

"If you stay out of trouble for the next six months, your case will be dismissed and sealed," Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Lynn Kotler said Monday.

After court, Li thanked her attorney, Robert Brown, who handled the case pro bono when he learned of her plight, and other community leaders who have helped her. She said, through a Mandarin interpreter, that she's relieved that the ordeal is over.

"I'm not nervous anymore," said Li, who donned a traditional Buddhist robe and had her head shaved.

Brown said the DA's office "did the right thing" and used its discretion appropriately in dismissing the charges.

On July 7, Li turned down an offer that would have required she plead guilty to disorderly conduct and perform one day of community service. She refused the deal, on the grounds that she'd done nothing illegal.

Brown said the arrest amounted to cultural insensitivity and said "a Catholic nun in a habit handing out rosary beads" would not have been hassled by the police.

Since coming to New York, Li has raised $20,000, about half of which she received after her arrest received press attention. On Tuesday, she plans to catch a bus back to Georgia, where her temple was located, to begin the rebuilding process, her lawyer said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the dismissal.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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