Trinity Church faces continued pressure about the use of its property – not just the fabled church and yard at the foot of Wall Street but over its corporate subsidiary, Trinity Real Estate, a cash cow of commercial real estate (valued at $1 billion) that makes it one of the largest landowners in Manhattan and the richest parish in the Anglican world. Last year Occupy Wall Street (OWS) along with allies in faith communities pleaded with Trinity for use of an unused vacant lot on Canal and Sixth Avenue known as Duarte Square, for an organizing base after being violently evicted from Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park). A December 17 clash over use of the lot resulted in 49 arrests, including several priests (Catholic and Episcopal), Bishop Packard (Episcopal), and one Catholic religious sister; a consolidated trial of 17 defendants is set to begin June 11.
Preceding the trial are two events that will put Trinity Church/Real Estate on the spot about its values. Trinity is being asked to stop prosecuting a group of OWSers and members of the faith community, and commit itself to economic justice.
Thursday, June 7, 11am Liberty Square – Justice for the 99% Rally Featuring author/journalist Chris Hedges and peace activist, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a public event to remind all land rich religious institutions that their faith calls their loyalty to those at the losing end of economic disparity. Contact: Bishop George Packard, 914-260-1178, email@example.com
Sunday, June 10, 7pm Steps of Trinity Church (B’way & Wall) – Vesper Service On the eve of the trial Rev. James Cooper and Trinity Wall Street will be asked in this service to embrace forgiveness, drop the charges, and re-consider use of the empty lot at Duarte Square. Contact: Sr. Susan Wilcox, 347-282-1480, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 11th 9 am Trial – Manhattan Criminal Court, Jury Part 7, 346 Broadway at Leonard Street, Rm TBA 18 defendants face trespass-related charges. Contact: Tom Hintze, 914-329-0347, email@example.com
The vestry of Trinity Church has recently been racked with divisions over the tenure of Rev. James Cooper. Ten of the church's 22-member vestry–its board of directors which includes worshipers, local business, political leaders–have either been forced out or quit. Cooper’s compensation of over $1 million a year, including a lavish SoHo townhouse, has become a lightning rod for criticism. Much like its Wall Street neighbors, Trinity gives money to charitable causes but refuses to challenge dramatic income inequalities right outside its doors.
Occupy Wall Street is part of an international people powered movement fighting for economic justice in the face of croney capitalism, the crimes of Wall Street, and a government controlled by monied interests. #OWS is the 99% organizing to end the tyranny of the 1%. For more info www.occupywallst.org