After a series of evictions at their encampments around the country, Occupy Wall Street protesters want the next phase of their movement to begin in a vacant lot on Canal Street and Sixth Avenue that’s owned by Trinity Church, but the church won’t let them use the space. On Saturday, the demonstrators plan to mark the three month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street with a rally. According to a press release sent out by the Occupy Wall Street media team, Saturday’s event is designed as “part of a call to re-occupy in the wake of the coordinated attacks and subsequent evictions of occupations” and an effort to “urge Trinity Church to do the right thing.”
Occupy Wall Street has struggled to evolve since NYPD officers evicted the protesters from their original home in Zuccotti Park on November 15. Two days later, the occupiers protested the raid with a massive march across the Brooklyn Bridge, but since then, the movement has seemingly lost steam in New York as the number of large scale protest actions here dwindled and Occupy encampments in other cities were raided including Boston, Los Angeles and Portland.
Protesters have had their eyes on Trinity’s lot ever since their eviction from Zuccotti Park. Occupiers asked Trinity to let them use the space the morning after the police raid and, earlier this month, attempted to convince the church to let them use the space with a hunger strike. Trinity Wall Street has allowed the protesters to use another space they own near Ground Zero for meeting space, wi fi and power outlets, but the church has opposed allowing the occupiers in the Canal Street lot. When the hunger strike began, Trinity Wall Street sent a statement to the Observer affirming their support for “the vigorous engagement of the issues which Occupy Wall Street has raised” and explaining their objections to letting protesters Occupy the lot.
“Trinity’s position has been consistent and clear. Trinity has provided meeting and gathering spaces as well as a tranquil place at church facilities in and around Wall Street. Thousands of protesters use these facilities every week,” the statement said. “However, the enclosed lot at Duarte Square is not available nor is it suitable for large-scale assemblies or encampments. It has no facilities and is licensed to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for interim outdoor art exhibits which will resume in the spring.”
Trinity Wall Street is one of the largest landowners in Manhattan with six million square feet of property descended from a grant given to the Episcopalian church by the Queen of England in 1705. Occupy Wall Street claims to have support of “1,400 faith leaders, elders of the civil rights movement, prominent artists and community members” for Saturday’s event.
George E. Packard, an Occupy Wall Street supporter and retired Episcopal Bishop to the Armed Forces and Chaplaincies, posted a note on the Trinity Wall Street Facebook page last week warning the church against resisting the protesters.
“I have this great worry that this venerable parish will be on the wrong side of history,” Bishop Packard wrote. “If we really saw OWS for who they are rather than putting up roadblocks in their path we’d truly delight in their coming!”
According to the press release, Occupy Wall Street’s “Occupation 2.0″ rally on Saturday will include speakers, live music and other performances stretching from noon into the evening.