Update: Occupy Wall Street Launches Hunger Strike Against Trinity Church; Demands Use of Vacant Lot

ls09 prog slideshow 01 Update: Occupy Wall Street Launches Hunger Strike Against Trinity Church; Demands Use of Vacant Lot

LentSpace Park, which protestors hope to occupy.

Update: The New York Observer received a correspondence from a spokesperson on behalf of Trinity Wall Street. The letter is posted below the original article.

While Midtown is teeming with jugglers and puppeteers for its Occupy Broadway debut, another, less festive demonstration is going on downtown. In an effort to convince Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal church downtown, to let Occupy Wall Streeters use a vacant area of land it owns on Canal and Sixth Avenue, the protesters are going on a hunger strike.

From the OWS press release:

New York City—On Saturday, December 3, in Liberty Plaza, we—THE OWS HUNGER STRIKERS—will begin a hunger strike. We are striking to demand outdoor space for a new occupation. We will hold our strike, for its duration, outside at Duarte Square on Sixth Avenue and Canal Street in Manhattan as part of a continued effort seeking sanctuary on Trinity Wall Street’s unused and vacant lot of land. Should we be arrested, we will continue the strike in jail. We are calling on Occupiers across the nation to join us.

This is a call for escalation in response to the escalated levels of government-enacted violence and repression The Occupy Movement has endured over the last few weeks. In cities across the nation, Mayors chose to stifle freedom of speech and the right to assemble by evicting peaceful occupations using illegal and unconstitutional force. Here in NYC, in the middle of the night on November 14, billionaire Mayor Bloomberg used the NYPD to illicitly evict our community from Liberty Square.

This action could be seen as Occupiers biting the hand that’s fed them: Trinity Church has been letting OWS use its Charlotte’s Place property on Greenwich Street between Rector and Carlisle for WiFi and power sources for over two months. Charlotte’s Place has also held mediation meetings with titles such as “Unlikely Allies: How Can Occupy Wall Street and Wall Street Learn to Hear One Another?

Laura Gottesdiener, one of the supporters of the hunger strike, clarifies that the strike is in no way to undermine the work Trinity Church has done by letting OWS use their space.

“They’ve allowed us to use facilities, to be part of their services, and have reached out to community to find places for Spokes Council,” said Ms. Gottesdiener by phone. “The hunger strike is an effort to reach out to Trinity Wall Street Church’s community, and especially Rector (Jim) Cooper, who has open say over all the church’s properties, including the open space on Duarte Street, and express the seriousness of OWS needing to have an outdoor occupation.”

The issue, Ms. Gottesdiener explained, was that Trinity Wall Street Church (whose commercial branch is Trinity Real Estate, one of the largest landowners in NYC and owner of  Hudson Square Properties) had not protected the protesters when they were arrested on the vacant property on November 15th, a day after the raids on Zuccotti Park.

“That day, a delegation of OWS members and members from other clergies and religious groups sat down with (Rector) Cooper and the Trinity community and asked if we could use the space. They didn’t give us an answer – but when they allowed 25 members to be arrested on their property, we took that as an answer. They did not call off the police.”

Trinity’s website lists itself as:

“…an important player in the world of New York City commercial realty, and home to an award-winning preschool. It is the home to the committees, guilds, and task-forces of a congregation committed to bringing God’s Kingdom to this world….Trinity Real Estate operates commercial facilities in the Hudson Square neighborhood of New York. Funds for the parish’s religious and philanthropic work throughout New York and in communities throughout the world are generated in large part by the parish’s real-estate income.”

Trinity Wall Street’s vacant property is in the process of being rezoned as part of a 3,000 new residential unit high-rise neighborhood, though approval hasn’t been gone through Community Board 2. “In the interim, we would like to use the space as a sanctuary and a place of community,” Ms. Gottesdiener said.

So far only three members have gone on hunger strike outside the lot, where they will refuse to move or eat until the land is offered to them by the church. When we asked if the non-moving clause would include public urination, Ms. Gottesdiener said that use of indoor facilities would be the one exception the hunger strike members would make.

Update: This is the letter we received on behalf of Trinity Wall Street:

Trinity’s position has been consistent and clear. 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 which Occupy Wall Street has raised. We will continue to extend our hospitality to protestors 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 during these times.

Comments

  1. Nick says:

    We will hold our breath till we get what we want like the obnoxious children we are. We cut the locks and jumped the fence to the property on Nov 15th, but you bad people wouldn’t let us steal your property and it’s your fault we were arrested.  So we still want it now! Gimmee gimmee.

    1. Paul says:

      Aw come on, Nick.  They are seeking the “privilege” of suffering through out in the cold of winter, day and night, on a vacant lot in a desolate spot so as to call attention to the direction of the country.  Ok you hate their politics – say so.  But why do we have to argue with fellow Americans as if they have no legitimacy as human beings because we don’t like their political statements?

      1. Honestrob says:

        desolate spot?
        If that was true they’d head to the Queens waterfront.
        LOTS of property available for rent in the outer boroughs – they have plenty of  ca$h to rent some.

        They WANT to be downtown to carry on like this is this correct place.
        If they REALLY had a valid message, they wouldn’t NEED to be ANYWHERE.

        Don’t change the debate.
        They want the camera lens on them and they will stomp their feet until they get it.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Look Paul, I’ve had my fill of people like you trying to bully people into giving you things for free simply because you DEMAND it.    Come onto my property and pull this nonsense… See what happens.   And no, these are not human beings. 

        If they want to act like animals, they will be regarded as such.

      3. Steph says:

        “these are not human beings” wow, you’re disgusting

      4. Dano1881 says:

        well.. they certainly live and act like animals.

      5. RandyG says:

        These protestors have been told MULTIPLE times that the space has been licensed to a cultural center through the spring time and is unavailable. How come they don’t understand that? Now they are trying to vilify and shame the church into doing something they are unable to do. This, after the church stood by these “trash-baggers” by offering them an unimaginable amount of services over the last few months.

        Peaceful protesting in public spaces, during reasonable hours (this has already been settled by the supreme court) is constitutionally protected under the 1 st amendment. Any defiance from that, and it’s unlawful and considered by police and protestors alike, as civil disobedience. Once engaged in CD, you must take responsibility for your actions and expect to get arrested. If you continue to disregard law enforcements directives, the use of force, non lethal, is acceptable protocol. Pepper spray, hand cuffs and LRAD is not police brutality. Currently, you have to travel to the Muslim countries in the middle east to receive REAL police brutality.

      6. Psycheboat says:

        So RandyG, wonder where we would be today if Colonist had only committed to “reasonable hours ” in protesting their desire to better treatment from  King George ?

      7. Dano1881 says:

        umm… the founding fathers didn’t crap on themselves and others and respect for private property was understood to be among the most important things they were fighting for. they’d be laughing at you losers just like we are.

      8. Gtb3 says:

        False comparisons lead to false conclusions.  Your logic is strained, the situations are not comparable.  The colonists knew what they wanted, the OWS crowd doesn’t.  It’s a 60′s moment for free sex, free dope and an excuse to kick “daddy” in the butt.  They need to be spanked and sent home to mama.

      9. JoshShnayer says:

        thank you thank you thank you!

      10. Psycheboat says:

        Sicko comes to mind when I find heartless and cruel people like dannyvice posting on what would be a more Progressive site..Go home danny boy to the FOX hole you enjoy and don’t for one minute think that this movement is not effective, because here you are responding to it..Gotcha Attention ??

      11. Dano1881 says:

        haha.. keep telling yourself that. the “movement” is absolutely NOT effective because you idiots alienate anyone and everyone who might be an ally but doesn’t heed your every childish, selfish demand. among those please count law abiding citizens who want no part of the open drug use, assault, provocation of cops, incessant drumming, pooping on the street… not to mention the smell. i can’t wait to go up there and taunt these dirtbags with hamburgers from McDonald’s or maybe a nice cheese pizza for the vegetarians. First they laughed, then they…blahblahblah….I GUESS WE ARE STILL IN THE LAUGHING STAGE…

      12. Dano1881 says:

        hmm. what ever did conservatives do before Fox? how did they ever come up with a single idea? On day 1 God said let there be Fox and on day 2 he created conservatives?

      13. Paul says:

        Hmm…I often hear these nasty comments coming from people that say they love America – it just seems like they hate Americans.  Well, any American who doesn’t agree with their politics.  Are we all in this together or not? 

        In a democracy treating each others opinions with respect is a patriotic act, no?

    2. Sandy says:

      Nick is defending Wall Street on the grounds that he doesn’t like theft!  Ha.

      1. Dano1881 says:

        and you are defending theft by accusing someone else of stealing

  2. ace09 says:

    Hunger Strikes for all!

    1. Dano1881 says:

      i’m going by there tomorrow with a sack of white castle.

  3. Olamink says:

    I guess it’s only noble when you agree with them? Otherwise they’re spoiled children? Hypocrites.

    1. rheydrich says:

      If these most recent actions by OWS are representative of “democracy” (threatening a church for not giving them even more), then, yes, mark me down in the “fascist” column. 

      1. Dano1881 says:

        among the dumbest OWS slogans  is “This is what democracy looks like”… Uhhh no, this is what a mob of spoiled, self centered children looks like.

  4. Olamink says:

    To call people spoiled animals for exercising their American rights makes you pro fascist.

    1. Dano1881 says:

      oh stop it. they are free to exercise their rights. taking over someone else’s property is no on the list.

    2. CarolineH says:

      Their rights?  What about mine with their blocking my ingress and egress and leaving filth behind that my money has to clean up!  I am not a fascist but a hard working American and not out breaking laws.  I don’t have half the electronic gadgets these creeps have.  They are just moochers.   A good idea here and there, but the rest of have these ideas and goals too but we don’t go out and destroy property.  They are the socialists, fascists and commies and I invite them to leave this country if they do not like freedom and capitalism, and enjoy the flavor and favor of socialism and communism in real life.  Been there, done that and I vote ALL AMERICAN! and work together to get our country and lives back.  Occupying someone else’s territory in the States ain’t the way to do it.  They need to get a life and find out what real life truly is.  Spoiled, they are; intelligent, they aren’t.

  5. Olamink says:

    I guess Jesus was a spoiled hippy hanging out in the streets too.

    1. Dano1881 says:

      jesus? you guys wouldn’t even feed the homeless when they showed up. next…….

  6. Olamink says:

    and I don’t even think the church should necessarily let them use the lot, I don’t know the details. But to put them down for trying to improve the world makes you … well, you know – either stupid, mean, or ignorant.

  7. Frank says:

    How much more childish can this “movement” get?  LOL!  

  8. So let’s be clear.  The space is being rezoned so that apartments can be built there and they want to use it in the interim.

    Do you know what will happen when it’s time to leave the space so that they can begin construction on that space?

    You guess it, THEY WON’T LEAVE!

  9. Katie says:

    If you give a mouse a cookie…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Most of these idiots couldn’t make a cheese sandwich let alone organise a protest

  11. Dano1881 says:

    c.u.n.t.s.

  12. Howard Lee says:

    A hunger strike.  Do they belive that anyone cares  if they starve themselves to death?  Sounds like a good idea.   

  13. CarolineH says:

    Hope it is a promise.  We have enough people with their hands out so let these idiots freeze their butts off and starve because they have that choice.  We have too many good and decent people out of work and in need of food and comfort and I see no reason to waste my money on those who just want to be taken care of without giving back.  As has been said, take a bath, shave and use deodorant and go out and get some kind of job!  but hey that means work and no one to hand everything to you, which you complain is happening with corporations.  And you are different?  Don’t think so!  Stop buying and using electronics because you are supporting those corporations, dude! 

    1. Urbaned says:

      Caroline, rather than complain about it, why don’t you come on down and offer someone a job? I’m sure these bright young people who have currently lost hope can clean up for around $60k/year with full benefits. Until then, they’re probably going to have to wait it out on the streets.