Yes, that is a bishop scaling the fence.
Trinity Wall Street is my parish church so this story is important to me. From the New York Times this morning:
From his spot at the center of Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan, Matt Sky watched on Saturday as hundreds of protesters streamed into the public areas of the triangle-shaped space at the center of an ideological tug of war between onetime allies turned adversaries: Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Church.
. . . Even before the protesters were displaced on Nov. 15, Trinity gave many of them hot chocolate, blankets and a place to rest at a space owned by the church. But when the Occupy movement expressed an interest in setting up an organizing camp on vacant Trinity property at Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, the church said no.
More than that. The church provided meeting space, cell phone charging, WiFi and much need bathrooms. They also provided chaplaincy services. But they said no for a reason. The lot has no facilities to sustain an encampment that would be healthy and safe. Neighbors would be upset. Liabilities would be great.
The Occupy Wall Street forces then directed their skills at the church: They took their arguments to the streets. In familiar fashion, police officers converged on the area, standing around the perimeter.
About 3 p.m., several hundred people began to slowly march along the blocks around the park. They went about five blocks north, then circled back. They were carrying homemade wooden ladders, draped with yellow banners. At Grand Street, the protesters made a move: They threw a ladder fashioned into a portable staircase against a chain-link fence separating the sidewalk from the church’s property.
A retired Episcopal bishop and army chaplain, George Packard (pictured above), was the first over the fence. He was arrested along with about 50 other people. He was not representative of the hierarchy of the church.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
In a rare comment on a local issue, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (SHOHR’-ee) said in a statement Friday it’s "regrettable" Occupy members want to seize fenced-in property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church in Manhattan. She says it could result in "legal and police action."
Mark Sisk, the bishop of New York and James Cooper, the rector of Trinity asked the protesters to not enter Duarte Square.
According to CNN, Archbishop Desmond Tutu issued a statement from South Africa. It read: “In a country where all people can vote and Trinity’s door to dialogue is open, it is not necessary to forcibly break into property.”
Church should be interesting this morning.
Has this retired bishop explained why he did this? And why does he think he can wear bishops robes if he’s retired? That photo is rather bizarre.
I was sympathetic with the “Occupy” movement at first because I have plenty of reason to complain about the financial situation in this country, myself. But I don’t think Occupy is accomplishing anything or heading in any direction except Complaining. And being obnoxious.
Any fool can complain: it takes a real man to build.
Re Occupy &Trinity Church: You don’t need to be religious to understand -and embrace- the idea that “Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” But many of the 1%, in blind greed and endless schemes, have forgotten this. They have closed their eyes to what the word “society” should really mean, what it can mean. But due to Occupy Wall Street, we are finally talking less about CUTS and more about BLEEDING. Instead of demanding m-o-r-e budget cuts -to be borne by the middle class and poor- we are FINALLY focusing on the shameful bleeding that the poor and middle class has endured, for all too long. Instead of talking about even m-o-r-e cuts in the taxes of millionaires….we are now talking about fairness and justice – about an economy and a political system that is increasingly run for the rich, and by the rich. Instead of talking about LESS government, we are talking about a government that WORKS FOR ALL OF US, not just a favored few. Thank you OWS, for reminding us that people -ordinary working people- really DO matter, and for helping open our eyes to what’s going on in this country, and why. The attempt by OWS to occupy Duarte Square (the empty lot owned by Trinity Church) is much more than a plea for sanctuary. For like Zuccotti Park, it’s an attempt to carve out a protected space, a living conscience for the city, amid the repression. A refuge…in a city where control-freaks would sweep us under the rug, and out of the way. In a city where they would pen us in, and permit us to death. In a city that tells us to “move on, move on”….. you don’t belong, you don’t count, you don’t have a right to be here…don’t assemble, don’t block the street, don’t trespass, don’t EXIST! They would deny us, deny our lives, deny our very futures. IF WE LET THEM. But OWS responds, both in word and in DEED: it says we’ve had ENOUGH – we BELONG, we STAND our ground, and we DO matter! This IS our land, and we want it BACK! The word OCCUPY…says it all! That’s why OWS has captured our imagination. That’s why a living breathing OCCUPIED public space is important for OWS. Like Lady Liberty’s never extinguished torch that burns in our harbor, OWS needs to have a concrete, persistent in-your-face presence.. to continually remind us of what we’ve lost, of what we are, and what we can be …to affirm, illuminate, defy…and inspire. Trinity Church, with its oft-proclaimed ideals (and its huge land holdings), should look deep into its collective soul, do the right thing, and help OWS secure a sanctuary, a space of refuge and hope. And dare I say: a space of love – both love of country, and love of your fellow man and woman. Can thoughtful Christians argue with these simple Christian/human values? For if Christ were physically with us today, as He was 2000 years ago, He would be among the FIRST to climb those fences, and occupy Trinity’s Duarte Square. Of this I am certain…
I am a parishioner at Trinity Wall Street. While I am sympathetic to what you say (I have a daughter who is an OWS protester) I think there is more to the story. Here is a letter from James Cooper the rector of Trinity. I agree with it:
From time to time people of goodwill may disagree. We disagree with those who argue that Trinity should–indeed, must as a matter of conscience–allow Occupy Wall Street to liberate its Duarte Square lot at Avenue of the Americas and Canal Street for an open encampment and large scale assemblies. In all good conscience and faith, we strongly believe to do so would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious.
Trinity has probably done as much or more for the protestors than any other institution in the area. We have provided OWS with meeting rooms and offices for them to assemble, plan and hold private discussions. We have provided pastoral services. We have provided a place of refuge and tranquility at our neighborhood center during open hours where they can rest, use computers, charge cell phones, and use bathrooms. Hundreds avail themselves of these facilities and services every day. It is one simple reflection of Trinity’s inherent concern for our community and for social and economic justice which has been at the heart of the church’s mission for more than 300 years.
We want to be responsive, while also being responsible, to our residential and business neighbors, partners, visitors and tenants-our entire community. 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.
–The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper
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