The rector of Trinity Wall Street has posted an updated message about the use of Duarte Square by Occupy Wall Street protestors.
From time to time people of goodwill may disagree. We disagree with those who argue that Trinity should–indeed, must as a matter of conscience–allow Occupy Wall Street to liberate its Duarte Square lot at Avenue of the Americas and Canal Street for an open encampment and large scale assemblies. In all good conscience and faith, we strongly believe to do so would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious.
Trinity has probably done as much or more for the protestors than any other institution in the area. We have provided OWS with meeting rooms and offices for them to assemble, plan and hold private discussions. We have provided pastoral services. We have provided a place of refuge and tranquility at our neighborhood center during open hours where they can rest, use computers, charge cell phones, and use bathrooms. Hundreds avail themselves of these facilities and services every day. It is one simple reflection of Trinity’s inherent concern for our community and for social and economic justice which has been at the heart of the church’s mission for more than 300 years.
We want to be responsive, while also being responsible, to our residential and business neighbors, partners, visitors and tenants-our entire community. There are no facilities at the Canal Street lot. Demanding access and vandalizing the property by a determined few OWS protesters won’t alter the fact that there are no basic elements to sustain an encampment. The health, safety and security problems posed by an encampment here, compounded by winter weather, would dwarf those experienced at Zuccotti Park.
Calling this an issue of “political sanctuary” is manipulative and blind to reality. Equating the desire to seize this property with uprisings against tyranny is misguided, at best. Hyperbolic distortion drives up petition signatures, but doesn’t make it right. Those arrested were not seeking sanctuary; they were seeking to be arrested. Trinity will continue our responsible outreach and pastoral services for all. We appreciate the many expressions of support we have received from so many in the community.
–The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper