To those outside of Lower Manhattan, it appears Occupy Wall Street has faded into obscurity. Unfortunately for some residents of New York City, the movement is still maintaining a presence on public property. After finally being ejected from Zuccotti Park after months of vandalism, violence and disruption, OWS hobos — I mean protesters — have taken up residence on the sidewalks outside Trinity Church, a parish church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The Episcopalians, not exactly known for being Christianity’s stalwarts of conservatism, aren’t happy about it.
This week Trinity Church announced that it would be canceling its annual Halloween celebration because the encampment makes the area around the church increasingly unsafe. In a statement issued on Sunday, Trinity’s Rev. James Cooper stated “Last year, more than 1,200 people took part. However, we are deeply concerned about the escalating illegal and abusive activity the camp presents.” Fox News went on to report,
Linda Hanick, a spokeswoman for Trinity Church, said nine people have been arrested in connection to the encampment in the past two weeks, including a man who was arrested after he put an air horn to the ear of a longtime maintenance superintendent at the church on Oct. 11. The maintenance worker was “traumatized” by the incident, she said.
“The sidewalk is owned by the city, so we don’t have the legal power to remove people from the sidewalk, but it’s our responsibility to clean it,” she said. “We hose down the sidewalk and throw away the trash.”
Those cleanings, which occur twice daily at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., typically lead to a “tense situation,” Hanick said.
This isn’t Occupy’s first run-in with Trinity, either. After their eviction from Zuccotti Park, Occupiers stormed a vacant lot owned by Trinity, breaking their locks in order to gain access to the property. The liberal church, surprisingly, decided to press charges against the demonstrators for criminal trespassing, setting the stage for the hostile tone many Occupiers are now exhibiting toward the church, its congregants and its staff.
Where are Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly? It took the mayor over three months to order Kelly to clear Zuccotti of the protestors that led to a booming crime rate and a permeating aroma of urine and body odor. For local residents and businesses Occupy was, in every sense, a public safety risk that deserved forcible removal the day after tents were erected on public soil. Now, there is an escalating situation at Trinity that has impaired their ability to serve the local community. Occupy is in no sense a political movement on the sidewalk outside of Trinity, they are a hostile group of homeless squatters with a few incoherent politically-inspired cardboard signs. If the city decided that Occupy was dangerous enough to warrant removal from Zuccotti, they should (quickly) come to the same conclusion about Trinity.