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Pressure still on Trinity Wall Street

Pressure still on Trinity Wall Street

The action group Faithful America is one of a number of groups calling to protest Trinity Wall Street. Their email petition reads:

TELL TRINITY CHURCH: DON’T JAIL OCCUPY ACTIVISTS

One of America’s wealthiest churches is trying to send Occupy Wall Street activists to prison.

Last year, Occupy Wall Street sought sanctuary on vacant property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church when they were evicted from Zuccotti Park. The church’s rector, ignoring pleas from Christian leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, had the occupiers arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Those arrested, including a retired Episcopal bishop, are scheduled to go on trial next week. They’re facing up to 90 days in prison, but so far Trinity’s leaders are cooperating with the prosecution and falsely claiming that the situation is now out of their control.

So a group of prominent New York City pastors is organizing a last-minute prayer vigil seeking to have the charges dropped. We’re hoping to give them a petition signed by over 10,000 people to deliver to Trinity Wall Street — will you add your name?

No one should go to jail for nonviolently seeking sanctuary on church property. Trinity Wall Street, please practice forgiveness and do everything in your power to have the charges against Occupy Wall Street activists dropped.

The Village Voice reports that Trinity Wall Street insists that their hands are tied:

Trinity has responded to emails on the subject with the following statement:

Trinity does not have the legal ability to drop charges. Those cases are being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office. However, Trinity has contacted the District Attorney’s office and has been advised that the District Attorney has offered non-criminal dispositions without fines or incarceration to all those defendants who were arrested and charged with trespassing for simply being present at Duarte Square.”

The Village Voice continues:

Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild says this statement is misleading on several counts. For one thing, while many of those arrested were offered and have declined Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal, not all of them have. For another, its disingenuous for Trinity to claim it has no control over the outcome in these cases. Sure, the District Attorney is in charge of the prosecution, but without the testimony of the church’s lawyer, Amy Jedlicka, prosecutors would have no case.

Protesters launched a picket outside yesterday’s service, carrying signs that read “Forgive us our trespasses,” “Who would Jesus Prosecute?” and “Trinity Wall Street: Real Estate Company or Church?”

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Michael Russell

@Joe I agree TWS could ask the DA to drop the charges.

On the other topic, though, power is power, period. You can handle it like a club or a scalpel or gradiations in between, but if you wish to be effective you will eventually seek to possess both power and influence. It is likely that a number of people in power or psychopaths and sociopaths (Read "The Psychopath Test" it is rather illuminating.

Eventually your movement gets dissatisfied with being right but ignored. And to be frank OWS is not a new emergent movement, the Quakers' Movement for a New Society has been advocating these techniques for 50 years.

As we can see from Wisconsin this week the 99% are not voting their own interests since 30%+ of union members voted against the recall.

Whupping on TWS is a Pyrrhic victory. It advances nothing. TWS may well be in the wrong, but they are a pointless target that does not advance the movement.

So we will see, I suppose, but my money is on them continuing to be irrelevant.

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Joe Brewer

Comments above aside, what would it hurt for Trinity to ask the DA to drop the charges? Instead, they continue to use their considerable resources and PR mavens to spin false stories, namely that TWS cannot control the outcome of the case. What would Jesus do, indeed.

TWS can't really use any more bad PR...they're losing credibility now that people know the rector's compensation ($1.3m/yr, demanded a $3.5m SoHo townhouse), half the vestry resigned due to a lack of confidence in the rector, and attendance is at an all-time low.

By the way, the property is now "occupied," presumably legally and according to Trinity's contract that prevented use of the space by OWS, by artisanal food trucks! How precious.

Michael, many occupiers think the system is corrupt and stacked against them and that their energy should be devoted to direct action, rather than raising enough money or selling out to lobbyists and super-PACs to put candidates in office. Your philosophy differs with theirs.

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Michael Russell

It seems OWS is determined to be ineffective. This hissy match with TWS has no organizational value with respect to stopping the financial predation on Wall St. I am confidant that these predatorsmrestmeasy ever night watching OWS attack TWS.

If they are not working to change the makeup of the House of Representatives, then they are just spinning wheels.

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Chris Arnold

Well, the fact is that the protesters did indeed trespass. The concept of sanctuary, or asylum, on church grounds grants a measure of safety to those who are fleeing unjust persecution or arrest. I don't think that church asylum is a valid legal principle in New York, and anyway I'm convinced that the protesters were there entirely by choice. Sanctuary doesn't apply.

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Martha Kreamer

If my memory serves me correctly, Trinity had leased the property in question to another entity, and could not turn it over without breaking that contract. If that is indeed the case, all this pressure on Trinity is inappropriate.

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