Live: Protesters Attempting a "Re-Occupation" On the Three Month Anniversary of OWS
Today marks the three month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, Bradley Manning's birthday, and the one-year anniversary of Tunisian Street Vendor Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation which began the "Arab Spring."
And in honor of all these occasions, many OWS activists in New York are attempting to "liberate" or "re-occupy" a downtown space on the #D17 day of action. The days' schedule is said to include a re-opening of the OWS library, puppet shows, performances by such luminaries as Lou Reed and Patti Smith, and potentially, if occupiers decide to stay on in Duarte Park, a whole lot of arrests.
The space where the celebrations are beginning is owned by Trinity Church, which has been offering some support to the protesters--but also is a huge real estate behemoth in the neighborhood, in some ways aligned with the 1%.
So vexing is Trinity’s dilemma that one of the world’s most prominent Anglicans, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has issued two statements on the matter: one posted on the Occupy Wall Street Web site, imploring Trinity to “find a way to help” the protesters, and a second, posted on the Trinity Web site, in which Archbishop Tutu said his comments were “not to be used to justify breaking the law.”
But Trinity is also a target for a specific reason: its status as owner of much of the space downtown.
Less known, though, is the church’s status as a real estate titan. Since 1705, when Queen Anne of England bequeathed more than 200 acres of what was then farmland to the church, Trinity Real Estate has come to control six million square feet of property, much of it office space around Hudson Square, financing an operation most parishes could never fathom. “No matter how supportive they may appear to Occupy, no matter how much hospitality they show to Occupy, Trinity Wall Street owns a lot of Lower Manhattan,” said Jim Naughton, a longtime observer of Episcopal Church issues who works as a partner at Canticle Communications, a public relations firm. “They’re vulnerable in that regard.”
At Mother Jones, Josh Harkinson writes about how and why the OWS activists have approached this particular space:
The Trinity Church parcel, which sits along Canal Street next to the publicly owned Duarte Plaza, has been slated for occupation by OWS even before the eviction from Zuccotti Park. Though the parcel is several subway stops from Wall Street, OWS organizers now see it as their best shot for re-establishing the kind physical presence that many occupiers still consider vital to the movement. But with the church dug in against the idea, claiming that the site is reserved for a future school, organizers have been forced to get creative. In late November, they marched to the lot along with sympathetic clergy members and civil rights leaders to hold a candlelight vigil. They've also reached out to local politicians.
The concept of "re-occupation" is not without its detractors in the movement itself, but the concept of the day long festival and celebration for the movement's birthday is less controversial--already, they've accomplished a brilliant re-staging of "A Chirstmas carol" with Mayor Mike Bloomberg as Scrooge.
Follow the #D17 hashtag on Twitter using the widget below to see how things unfold.