Trinity Wall Street and the occupation

The Associated Press reports:

Three Occupy Wall Street protesters who are on a hunger strike to get a New York church to give them access to a vacant lot in downtown Manhattan have been arrested on trespassing charges.

Police say the protesters were arrested Sunday at the lot on Sixth Avenue and Canal Street. They started their hunger strike on Saturday and slept overnight at the site along with several supporters.

The protesters, who were rousted from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, are pressing for access to an alternative space owned by Trinity Church, an Episcopal church that dates to the colonial era.

(Updated: AM New York has what seem to be the most recent details.)

Trinity Wall Street’s statement on the land in question, known as Duarte Square, reads:

Trinity Wall Street supports the right of peaceful protest, which can take many forms. That does not alter our consistent and clear position regarding Duarte Square. 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. 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 supports the vigorous engagement of the issues Occupy Wall Street has raised. However, we do not condone breaking the law. We will continue to extend our hospitality to protesters and all who come to our church properties during open hours. We strive to be responsive and responsible and appreciate the many expressions of support we have received.

(Yet another Update: Why Occupy needs public space [preferably Duarte Square] from Religion Dispatches.)

The hunger strikers have written an open letter to Trinity, which you can see by clicking on Read more at the bottom of this file.

And the Undercover Nun, quoting Arundhati Roy, asks whether the hungry can go on a hunger strike:

The Occupy movement arose from the middle class, where the risk is not as great. If a middle-class-er goes without food for a day, she or he will feel funny the next day. But there are people here in America who might die after going without food for a day, because they are that close to the edge.

I’m not trying to say that OWS is a bad thing or that these people shouldn’t be demonstrating. Just that I’ve had an abiding discomfort with the movement, and I struggle to explain why.

There is also a somewhat dated background story here.

Expect further developments today. The Twitter hashtag, as best we can tell is #OWSHungerStrike.

Dear Trinity Wall Street,

Yesterday, we began a hunger strike at 12 p.m. on your vacant lot at Canal Street and Sixth Avenue. Today, 24 hours into our strike we were arrested on your property as we sat in peace.

Upon release, we returned to Canal Street and Sixth Avenue to find three new hunger strikers had joined us. Now as six, the strike continues.

We are striking to gain unfettered access to your site on Sixth Avenue and Canal Street until the proposed building begins on the premises.

In the meantime, ask that you take the following three actions immediately:

1. Meet with a designated delegation from Occupy Wall Street to discuss a future, mutually beneficial use of this site

2. Allow a peaceful hunger strike to continue on your property without fear of harassment or arrest

3. Drop today’s trespassing charges–and all past and future charges against us and other members of Occupy Wall Street incurred on this site

Yesterday we were three. Today we are six. We appeal to the Episcopal Diocese’s sense of compassion and its respect for righteousness and peaceful protest. We are hopeful that Trinity will embody these ideals moving forward.

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