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Occupy Wall Street activists scale a wall to get into Duarte Square after police removed the protesters early in the morning from Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011, in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - Occupy Wall Street’s next big direct action will strike at home – literally, a potential new camp for the flagship of the grassroots movement.
Protesters plan to try and occupy a nearly half-acre plot about one mile northwest of their former camp at Zuccotti Park on Saturday, the three month-anniversary of the movement. The land is owned by Trinity Church, whose operations include an Episcopal parish, a commercial realty business and a grant-making organization.
“We’re calling it Occupation 2.0,” said Mark Bray, of the OWS public relations working group. “It’s been a vacant lot for years and will continue to be a vacant lot for years. There is no indication yet as to how they’ll respond when the time comes, so we’ll see.”
But even though the church has assisted Occupy Wall Street by providing them meeting rooms and use of their neighborhood center, it is opposed to having them stay at the Duarte Square lot. An attempt to move in there on Nov. 15 -- the day protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park – was rejected by the church.
“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 … 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,” its rector, The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, said in a statement dated Dec. 9 and posted to the church website. “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.”
Linda Hanick, a spokeswoman for the church, said Tuesday that their position would not change.
The Occupy Wall Street plan comes as authorities have shuttered many 'Occupy' camps across the country.
"Occupations create space for community, values, ideas and a level of meaningful dialogue absent in the present system," Occupy Wall Street said in a statement for the Dec. 17 action. They have allowed us to realize that we cannot fix our crises isolated from one another. We need collective action, and we need civic space. We are creating that civic space."
Protesters will bring musicians and others with them in their bid to pressure the church to let them take the space. They say they’ll do things differently this time to prevent problems -- such as a few assaults -- that tainted their efforts at Zuccotti Park. There won’t be personal tents, for example, only large ones for group meetings, said Brendan Burke, 41, of Brooklyn, who helped start the Occupy Wall Street security team.
“You’re coming here to build a community,” he said. “It’s all about a different vibe. It’s not just, ‘come here and crash.’ It’s, ‘come here and work.’”