UPDATE: Bishop Sisk writes:
Bishop Sisk writes in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests. This article was originally planned for the next (December) Episcopal New Yorker, but in light of last night’s developments in lower Manhattan, it has been decided to publish it now electronically. (more below)
Trinity Wall Street in New York seems to be caught in the same situation as St. Paul’s in London. Now that the Occupy Wall Street protestors have been removed from Zuccotti Park they have tried to move to Duarte Square which partially owned by Trinity Wall Street. According to the New York Times they are being barred from that place too.
The operation in and around the park struck a blow to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which saw the park as its spiritual heart. The sweep was intended to empty the birthplace of a protest movement that has inspired hundreds of tent cities from coast to coast.
The police action was quickly challenged as lawyers for the protesters obtained a temporary restraining order barring the city and the park’s private landlord from evicting protesters or removing their belongings. It was not immediately clear how the city would respond. The judge, Lucy Billings of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.
The midday arrests at the Canal Street lot unfolded next to a triangular space known as Duarte Square, for the first president of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte. The city owns slightly less than half an acre of land there, on the eastern edge of the square. The western section is owned by Trinity Church, a major landowner downtown, and had been fenced off for the winter recently after an art installation was dismantled.
Occupychurch has produced an online petition:
To be delivered to: The Rev. Dr. James Herbert Cooper, Rector, Trinity Wall Street
Jesus told his followers that “you cannot serve both God and wealth.” Instead of allowing NYPD to arrest peaceful protestors on its property, Trinity Wall Street should offer sanctuary to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
After being evicted from Zuccotti Park in a pre-dawn raid, many people from Occupy Wall Street relocated to property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church — a progressive church with a rich history of social activism.
But instead of the occupiers finding sanctuary on church property, they were arrested by the New York Police. The Bloomberg administration is clearly determined to put an end to Occupy Wall Street’s peaceful witness against economic injustice.
It’s time for Christians to stand with the 99% — not merely in words, but in action. Join us in asking Trinity Wall Street to do the right thing and offer sanctuary to Occupy Wall Street.
(If you are an Episcopalian, please indicate your parish in the comments, so Trinity can see that many within their own tradition are asking for their support.)
Here is the statement from Trinity Wall Street:
Statement on Duarte Square
November 15, 2011
Duarte Square, at the intersection of Canal Street and Sixth Avenue and a block from the Holland Tunnel, is comprised of both public and private land. Duarte Park, on the eastern edge, is City-owned public land.
The larger enclosed portion of the square is private space owned by Trinity Wall Street and currently licensed for use to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for a temporary art installation known as “Lent Space” that is closed for the season. Neither Trinity Wall Street nor the LMCC has given permission for members of Occupy Wall Street to enter the private area.
Trinity respects the rights of citizens to protest peacefully and supports the vigorous engagement of the concerns of the protesters. Trinity continues to provide gathering and meeting spaces for Occupy Wall Street in its neighborhood center and facilities in and around Wall Street.
Lloyd Kaplan or Ilyse Fink
From our comments:
Daniel Simons from Trinity Wall Street just posted! Caught in the
crossroads/crossfire: Trinity continues its support to OWS, but couldn’t give them the empty lot in Hudson Square because it is leased to Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Spun badly in the NYT and now trending on Twitter (negatively). … we had 350 of the occupiers in our parish hall night before last – our doors are still open!
As the OWS protestors point out, wealth in our country is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, the real income of the broad middle class has not increased in more than a generation, and the ranks of the poorest among us each year become ever more solidified. These are the facts—and the reality behind them is, quite simply, morally wrong. Ultimately, left unchecked, that reality is deeply dangerous. It is at odds with our vision of ourselves, and as Americans we ignore it at the peril of our most cherished national ideals. As Christians, we ignore it at the peril of our souls.
The way forward is not simple. In spite of what some in the public square would have us think, there are no obvious and easy solutions for complex problems. But what we must strive for is clear. We must—and I believe that this is what lies at the core of the OWS protests—rein in the imbalances that have caused our economic house to careen off course as though it is a self-perpetuating, self-governing good. The solution that we find will not be perfect, just as human beings are not perfect; but to surrender to forces as though we are helpless before them is not an answer, but an excuse.
We can do better. We are not helpless. We can, by working together, build a better, more just, society: a society founded on the American ideal of a nation in which there are “certain unalienable Rights,” including those to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We can look to the heart of who we are as a people and draw upon our better lights to seek the common good. That is our challenge as a nation. As followers of Jesus, we know that our calling now and always is to seek the welfare of the people, the children of God.