On November 15, 2011, Occupy Wall Street was brutally forced out of Zuccotti Park. We asked Trinity Wall Street for sanctuary on one of their many properties — a vacant lot known as Juan Pablo Duarte Square (not to be confused with Juan Pablo Duarte Park, which is not vacant). Trinity Wall Street Church, in the person of CEO/Rector James Cooper, refused our request, telling us there was no room in the inn and we could go home (if we had one) or to one of the city’s shelters. CEO/Rector Cooper could not offer Trinity Wall Street’s shelters because he had closed them long before.
On December 17, 2011, Occupy Wall Street attempted to occupy the vacant Duarte Square. Forty-nine of us were arrested for trespassing. We asked Trinity Wall Street for forgiveness. Trinity Wall Street Church refused to forgive. One of our number, Mark Adams, was sent to prison for 45 days. Seven others, including a bishop, a minister and a street medic, were sentenced to 4 days community service. Forty of us accepted ACDs. One of us had the charges dropped — the judge reluctantly allowed that she was “Press”, and therefore was awarded the inherent privileges of the press.
We are occupying the public sidewalk outside Trinity Wall Street Church. We started this action before the trial started to publicly ask CEO/Rector Cooper to drop the charges. Our private appeals were met with duplicitous ignorance, and so we had no choice but to attend to the situation in our unique Occupy way.
The action evolved into a “Free Mark Adams” vigil, and we were determined to Occupy until he was freed. We accomplished that action despite harassment, intimidation and assault from the NYPD. The Police had help from the Downtown Alliance, the Department of Sanitation, Securitas (Trinity Wall Street Church’s hired security), and all the media and news outlets who have refused to even mention the existence of this action at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway.
By the time Mark had finished his sentence we had learned a lot about Trinity Wall Street Church and CEO/Rector James Cooper. Some of us decided to evolve this action further because we found out that Trinity Wall Street Church, the richest parish of any faith in the world (with only 40-60 parishioners), was known for its philanthropy and programs for the poor before James Cooper became the Rector and gave himself the title of Chief Executive Officer.
By mutual agreement reached by consensus in a General Assembly of those occupying the sidewalk we decided to occupy until James Cooper is fired or steps down. We also decided to take various autonomous actions against the Wall Street allies of James Cooper. Trinity Real Estate Corporation masquerades as Trinity Wall Street Church now. Corporate religion is not Christian. Profits before religion is the same thing as profits before people — and that is one of the central principles of Occupy, that people come before profits. Under the guidance of CEO/Rector Cooper Trinity Wall Street Church pollutes human spirituality, and therefore is as guilty as a corporation of intentionally committing unconscionable harm to the people and the environment in the pursuit of profit.
We will occupy. As we occupy we will research and learn. We will follow the money. We will uncover secrets. We will tell the world what we find. We are the 99%.
The following is a letter sent to CEO/Rector Cooper from the Council of Elders. We are not alone.
December 16, 2011 Dear Rev. Dr. James Cooper,
We are veterans of the Civil Rights, Women’s, Peace, Environmental, LGBTQ, Immigrant Justice, labor rights and other movements of the last 60 years. Many of us have been or continue to be leaders of religious congregations and organizations, so we are deeply understanding of the need to protect the spaces and buildings that generations of the faithful have transmitted to us.
We are also deeply committed to using the share of God’s abundance that has been entrusted to us for the help and healing of those “least of these” – the poor, the humiliated, the hungry, the homeless, the dis-empowered –whom God has called us to protect.
We have special understandings of both of those commitments because as leaders of the social-change movements of the 20th century we have been called to deploy resources for the sake of racial and social justice and the cause of peace. Today we see the Occupy movement as efforts by a new generation of (mostly young) people to move forward as we did toward fuller justice and democracy for the diverse peoples in our nation.
We are concerned to hear that Occupy Wall Street has asked Trinity Church for use of the Lent-Space on 6th and Canal to gather, and has been refused.
We are especially moved to hear that the Episcopal Cathedral of Boston has invited the Occupy movement there to gather in its space.
We know that some question the need for Occupy to continue to occupy physical space but we have witnessed the impact of communal, inspirational, face-to-face contact in which people can be visible to the world and to one another. We have also been challenged to respond to the question from Occupy, Where can you go if you don’t own something? Does a public even exist if it has no space? And finally, like visionaries before them, many Occupiers have chosen to give up everything to invest in a future that does not exist except in their dreams and visions. In a world where the majority of our nation is oppressed by economic and racial inequality, experiencing isolation and dehumanization at every turn, the Occupy movement in its public presence has provided hope and purpose and a pressing challenge to us all.
We urge you to reexamine the possibilities in the light of the importance of Occupy Wall Street as a spark of God’s “Burning Bush” in this moment of deep social crisis. We urge you to approve the use of this sacred space for a sacred purpose – the pursuit of justice in America.
With blessings, Organizing Committee Council of Elders cc Vestry Members