Friday PhotoDecember 23, 2011
Last Saturday was the three-month anniversary of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Activists in New York City marked the occasion by attempting to occupy a new plot of land--Duarte Square. That location is owned by Trinity Church, an Episcopalian church that literally sits at the start of Wall Street and is just a couple of blocks from Zuccotti Park (the birthplace of the occupy movement). Although church leaders initially were supportive of the occupiers, they repeatedly rebuffed calls to offer space after Zuccotti Park was cleared last month. Arguing that the church should live out its ideals, many occupiers started asking for permission to use Duarte Square, which is several blocks from the church and is currently fenced off and not being used. As one occupier stated:
We are coming to you for sanctuary.When the request was denied, the occupiers told church leaders they would use the three-month anniversary to "re-occupy" by entering Duarte Square. On Saturday, more than 50 people were arrested after entering the Square. Among those arrested was retired Episcopalian Bishop George Packard, who was the first to climb over the fence. Now that Trinity Church is at odds with the occupy movement, its wealth has come into question. One of the largest land owners in New York City, the Church's real estate holdings are worth more than $10 billion and numerous Church lay leaders are quite wealthy. It probably does not help that the Church's website is www.TrinityWallStreet.org. The use of "Wall Street" in their name is a good geographical indicator but now makes them an obvious target of the occupy movement. To connect the criticism of Trinity with the spirit of Christmas, activists went to Trinity Church two days before the Duarte Square effort and placed a nativity scene in a little tent on the Church's property. The scene included a sign declaring:
There was no room for them in the inn. But with $10 billion in real estate, Trinity has plenty of room.Although the argument for using Trinity's space is not the same as the original argument for occupation (see post here)--and Trinity's land would not be needed if there was public space for people to peaceably assemble in (see post here)--the occupiers make an important spiritual argument. Here is a photo I took this summer of Trinity Church as seen through the fence surrounding its cemetery.