Friday, December 16, 2011

The Part Where Occupy Wall Street Demands Use of Private Property

After being unceremoniously kicked out of Zuccotti Park a month ago, the Occupy Wall Streeters have been sleeping in churches and other shelters throughout the city.

That just won’t do.

Trinity Wall Street, one of the churches who has provided facilities for the Occupiers in the fallout has now found themselves in the middle of OWS’s crosshairs. You see, Trinity owns a piece of land near Duarte Square Park, and OWS feels it is there right to camp out on that land. In fact, three OWSers launched a hunger strike in an attempt to force Trinity to allow them to set up an encampment. Needless to say, Trinity has declined. The hunger strikers have been arrested more than once for trespassing on Trinity’s land.

Trinity has offered a very well reasoned statement about why they don’t want to allow this:
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.
Call me crazy, but obviously Trinity doesn't want to deal with the potential liabilities or the filth.  If they did allow OWS to camp on their property, and someone got frostbite, hypothermia, or injured in some other way, who do you think would be held respondible?  Trinity.  It's their property, and it's their right to decide who they want to allow on the property.  OWS has for weeks been trying to convince Trinity otherwise, but Trinity has remained firm.

Now, OWS is talking about Occupy 2.0, where they intend to occupy Trinity's land tomorrow.

Here’s what one guy said:
“We need a space for assembly and a space for free speech,” protester Amin Husain, 36, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, told the Rev. Matt Heyd of Trinity. “We’re coming to you for sanctuary.”
Trinity gave them sanctuary.  They want more than that.  They want a campground.  Remember, this is a church who has provided them shelter, meeting rooms, bathrooms, and other facilities following the eviction from Zuccotti Park.  If this is how they treat an organization that has been -- for all intents and purposes -- sympathetic to their cause, I would hate to see what they would do to an unsympathetic organization.  And since when does any private party have to provide a space for assembly and free speech?

More importantly, why doesn't OWS use the hundreds of thousands of dollars they've raised to rent their own plot of land somewhere for an encampment?  If they do that, no one can evict them, no one can arrest them, and no one can stop them from doing whatever they want on their own property. 

Of course, that would mean paying for something rather than stealing from another person.

A number of other churches have gotten behind OWS in their demand for Trinity’s land, which seems pretty weak to me.  Why don't one of those other churches cough up some land for an OWS encampment.  It's easy to disparage one church from afar when you don't own the land at issue, won't be liable if anything goes wrong, and don't have to deal with the clean-up.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.  I suspect a lot of arrests.


  1. Trinity's response was so eloquent. It doesn't surprise me that that OWS would bite the hand that fed them.
    My parents have a few acres on an odd dead end in the city with three small ponds. It's a magnet for neighborhood kids. They are driven to get in the yard and throw balls in just to hop the fence. They've wrecked the fence so many times and my dad has yelled at them and found their parents, called police etc. One mother had the nerve to tell my dad that her kid had "the right" to go in the yard, "No Trespassing" signs be damned. But the kid drowns in the pond and who's responsible? My parents.

    I don't know where/who these people think they are. They're a special breed of horrible.

  2. It's entitlement. I can do what I want, where I want, with whoever I want. No respect for authority at all. It's really frightening, to be honest. We weren't like this when I was young. If someone told us to get off their property, we got off!