Dozens of Occupy protesters arrested in Manhattan
18 Dec, 2011 01:53
Some 50 anti-Wall Street protesters have been arrested after trying to break into a church-owned property in Manhattan as the Occupy movement marked the three-month anniversary of its fight against economic injustice.
The anti-corporate demonstrators have been in search of a new location since they were evicted from their encampment in Zuccotti Park last month. Dozens tried to claim a fence into the empty lot on Duarte Square in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood on Saturday afternoon. The square is city-owned, but a fenced section belongs to the Trinity Wall Street Church.Activists tore holes in the fence around the private grounds, and used ladders to climb inside shouting “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!”The first person to get into the park was retired Episcopal Church Bishop George Packard. He tumbled over the fence, climbed onto a wooden bench inside the park and called on the crowd to follow. Police dispersed the protesters, claiming that the occupiers, who did not have permission to enter the park, were turning violent. The retired bishop was arrested along with everybody who did not flee the site. The crowd yelled “Shame!” as the arrests took place.Earlier the protesters had asked the Episcopal Church officials to allow them to occupy the church-owned park on Duarte Square, but were refused. Their bid was backed by South Africa’s prominent anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. On Friday, the top bishop of the Episcopal Church asked the protesters not to trespass on the property of the Trinity Church on Duarte Square and called the move “regrettable.”In an official statement issued by Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Church rector Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper said that the church does not believe that allowing an encampment on Duarte Square would do any good.“In all good conscience and faith, we strongly believe to do so would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious,” the statement read.The rector pointed out that the Church “has probably done as much or more for the protesters than any other institution in the area.”“We have provided OWS with meeting rooms and offices for them to assemble, plan and hold private discussions. We have provided pastoral services. We have provided a place of refuge and tranquillity at our neighborhood center during opening hours where they can rest, use computers, charge cell phones, and use bathrooms,” Cooper said.Meanwhile, a half a dozen Occupy Des Moines activists have set up a camp outside President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Iowa, according to the Associated Press. The occupiers, who are protesting against military spending, vow to stay there around the clock.The protesters say they want Obama to cut the US military budget by half and “dismantle our US military empire” to create jobs. No comments followed from Obama’s campaign.In North Carolina, at least six Occupy protesters have been arrested and face charges. Police detained the activists in Raleigh as a group of about 20 to 30 demonstrators blocked the city’s downtown Hillsborough Street and refused to move.The events come as a part of a call to “reoccupy” public spaces following the wave of police crackdowns and evictions of Occupy activists across the United States.