Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
HAVE YOUR DONATION DOUBLED!

If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

OWS Meets Trinity Episcopal Church

by LAURA FLANDERS

Occupy Wall Street attempted to set up a new camp on a dusty strip of church-owned land in lower Manhattan, Saturday. Occupy 2.0 failed (at least 50 protestors were arrested) but the effort did succeed in stirring up a storm about property, power and the church just in time for Christmas.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall St and Occupy Wall St were near-by neighbors when the occupiers lived at Zuccotti Park, but since their eviction from that site on November 15, the occupiers have set their hopes on setting up a new camp a few blocks north, on Canal Street at Six Avenue. The land they have in mind (an ugly fenced-off triangle that abuts a concrete slab called Duarte Park,) is owned by the real estate arm of Trinity Church: Trinity Real Estate, one of the largest landowners in Manhattan with six million square feet of property and plans for a 430 foot-high building on the Duarte site — the centerpiece of a new downtown development.

Trinity’s been adamant about keeping OWS out.  Twenty-two protestors were arrested there on November 15. The company called the NYPD –twice – to arrest hunger strikers who started a sit-in there a few days later. This Saturday, the cops cleared the site once again, after dozens scaled the surrounding fence. The iconic picture of the day was that of Retired Bishop George Packard, Chief Chaplin of the Episcopal Church, crossing the chain-link in full bishop garb. (As one friend put it, That’s what I like, clergy going OVER the fence not sitting ON it!”)

Trinity Church’s rector, Rev. James Cooper, has been quoted all over the New York press, talking up all the good things the church has done for the movement, lending meeting rooms, computers and bathrooms to the occupiers. Says Cooper: “Trinity has probably done as much or more for the protestors than any other institution in the area.” So it was inevitable that as people milled about in the cold this Saturday, some were asking whether, with so few friends and so many banks and Wall Street targets to choose from, the relatively liberal Episcopal Church is actually an apt target for an economic justice movement?\

I’d say it’s a perfect target.  First there are the big basic questions about churches and the state. Why, in economic bad times, or even in good, does the supposedly secular US state subsidize superstition at all, and why despite decades of explicit segregation and criminal abuse – are all tax payers without discrimination forced to subsidize institutions that discriminate?

Then there are the Trinity-specific questions: deeded a good chunk of lower Manhattan, from about Christopher St to Wall St, by Queen Anne of England in 1705, Trinity Church has become the front for a massive for-profit landlord.  Trinity says its real estate profits (on which it reportedly pays taxes) go to support its charitable missions like soup kitchens and homeless shelters and so on. But let’s face facts: whether we’re talking soup or space, Trinity lends a little to those who need a lot (pun intended.) In this they’re emblematic of a world of liberal institutions, (think of your favorite non-profit/foundation.)

They even drag artists into it. Will there be affordable rents for non-affluent artists in their new high-rise?  I’d bet not, but meanwhile, the dismal, dry Duarte space has been lent the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for “cultural projects.” Yet when Occupy Art NYC, a group that includes Laurie Anderson, an LMCC member, petitioned Trinity for permission to fill the Duarte space with occupy-related art – they received no answer.

Where does Trinity stand on changing the systems that set so many up to need soup?

One hundred years, JP Morgan was reportedly a parishoner and helped encourage the Church’s investments in lower east side slum property. Take a look at Trinity’s vestry today (the governing board that manages the parish’s affairs) and you find a veritable who’s-who of the city’s one percent. Conveniently leaked to #OWS, Trinity’s board includes Wall Street bankers, media and real estate executives, and a former executive vice president of Brookfield Properties, the company that owns Zuccotti Park and pressured the city to evict the occupiers in the first place. (See the full list here – PDF).

As OWS put it, “Importantly, in the Episcopal polity, the parish vestry has full legal control over property — which is a big deal for a church that reportedly has $10 billion in real estate assets. It also means that this small group of people (many of whom are not members of Trinity) are making the final decision about whether to open Duarte Square.”

Even more importantly, the Trinity vestry list is a clear example of the interlocking boards that bind do-gooders to those who do bad, and exactly the kind of information Occupy’s made public when many would rather keep hush. Keep at it.

Wendy Boyce 
Manager, Retirement Plans, AIG, Inc.

Porter Fleming
 Partner, Frommer, Lawrence & Haug LLP

Thomas Flexner
Global Head of Real Estate, Citigroup

Stefan Ford
 General Counsel, Energy Intelligence Group

Dr. Michael Gilligan
 President, Henry Luce Foundation

Lawrence Graham 
Executive Vice President (Retired), Brookfield Office Properties

Joseph Hakim
 Chairman of the Board of Directors, Park Agency, Inc.

Chester Johnson
 Chairman (Retired), Government Finance Associates, Inc.

Leah Johnson
 Founder and CEO, LCJ Solutions

Lorraine LaHuta
 Vice President for Development and Communications, The New York Academy of Medicine

Andrew Lynn
 Director of Planning and Regional Development, Port Authority of NY and NJ

Dr. Westina Matthews Shatteen
 Managing Director (Retired), Merrill Lynch

Andrew McMaster
 Deloitte LLP

Christopher McCrudden
 Vice President (Retired), Princeton University

Jon Meacham
 Executive Editor, Random House

Peter Ng
 Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific
The Episcopal Church Center

Jean Phifer 
Associate, Thomas Phifer and Partners

Dennis Sullivan
 President and CEO, Church Pension Fund

Betty Whelchel
 General Counsel-CIB Americas, BNP Paribas

Mary White, MD 
Medical Director, Weill Cornell clinic for Human Rights, Weill Cornell Medical College

LAURA FLANDERS is the editor of At the Tea Party.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

Weekend Edition
October 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth
Michael Hudson
Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 Compared to 1917
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in the Life of CounterPunch
Paul Street
The Not-So-Radical “Socialist” From Vermont
Jason Hirthler
Censorship in the Digital Age
Jonathan Cook
Harvey Weinstein and the Politics of Hollywood
Andrew Levine
Diagnosing the Donald
Michelle Renee Matisons
Relocated Puerto Rican Families are Florida’s Latest Class War Targets
Richard Moser
Goldman Sachs vs. Goldman Sachs?
David Rosen
Male Sexual Violence: As American as Cherry Pie
Mike Whitney
John Brennan’s Police State USA
Robert Hunziker
Mr. Toxicity Zaps America
Peter Gelderloos
Catalan Independence and the Crisis of Democracy
Robert Fantina
Fatah, Hamas, Israel and the United States
Edward Curtin
Organized Chaos and Confusion as Political Control
Patrick Cockburn
The Transformation of Iraq: Kurds Have Lost 40% of Their Territory
CJ Hopkins
Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy
Bill Quigley
The Blueprint for the Most Radical City on the Planet
Brian Cloughley
Chinese Dreams and American Deaths in Africa
John Hultgren
Immigration and the American Political Imagination
Thomas Klikauer
Torturing the Poor, German-Style
Gerry Brown
China’s Elderly Statesmen
Pepe Escobar
Kirkuk Redux Was a Bloodless Offensive, Here’s Why
Jill Richardson
The Mundaneness of Sexual Violence
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Choreography of Human Dignity: Blade Runner 2049 and World War Z
Missy Comley Beattie
Bitch, Get Out!!
Andre Vltchek
The Greatest Indonesian Painter and “Praying to the Pig”
Ralph Nader
Why is Nobelist Economist Richard Thaler so Jovial?
Ricardo Vaz
Venezuela Regional Elections: Chavismo in Triumph, Opposition in Disarray and Media in Denial
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
NAFTA Talks Falter, Time To Increase Pressure
GD Dess
Why We Shouldn’t Let Hillary Haunt Us … And Why Having a Vision Matters
Ron Jacobs
Stop the Idiocy! Stop the Mattis-ness!
Russell Mokhiber
Talley Sergent Aaron Scheinberg Coca Cola Single Payer and the Failure of Democrats in West Virginia
Michael Barker
The Fiction of Kurt Andersen’s “Fantasyland”
Murray Dobbin
Yes, We Need to Tax the Rich
Dave Lindorff
Two Soviet Spies Who Deserve a Posthumous Nobel Peace Prize
Rafael Bernabe – Manuel Rodríguez Banchs
Open Letter to the People of the United States From Puerto Rico, a Month After Hurricane María
Oliver Tickell
#FreeJackLetts
Victor Grossman
From Jamaica to Knees
Michael Welton
Faith and the World: the Baha’i Vision
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Kirkuk the Consolation Prize?
Graham Peebles
Beyond Neo-Liberal Consumerism
Louis Proyect
On Gowans on Syria
Charles R. Larson
Review: Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden’s “Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby”
David Yearsley
Katy Perry’s Gastro-Pop, Gastro-Porn Orgy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail