Trials Begin for Infamous Group of Priest-Led OWS Protesters

Written by NYPress on . Posted in Breaking News, News Our Town Downtown, Our Town Downtown.


Bishop George Packard in Duarte Square in 2011. Photo by Bklynraised, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

Back in December, eight OWS protesters were arrested for trespassing. Six months later their cases are finally going to trial, The Nation reports.

(by Alissa Fleck)

The December arrest took place at Duarte Square, where the Occupy movement saw its three-month anniversary. The OWS participants were standing in a vacant lot owned by Trinity Church at the time of their arrest. According to a reporter at The Guardian, the court room was overrun by occupiers yesterday at the eights’ arraignment.

Up for debate was whether “open to the public” signs around the church lot gave officers permission to clear the area, reports The Guardian. Trinity Church Rector James Cooper said the church was not seeking any sort of retribution, issuing a statement that “non-criminal dispositions without fines or incarceration be granted to all.” Cooper added that Trinity welcomes all OWS members.

Trinity made its facilities accessible to protesters at the beginning of the movement, but following the breakup of the Zuccotti Park encampment things got a little dicier, The Guardian says. Initially, protesters cut a hole in a fence to gain access to the vacant lot. Many were arrested. They made a second attempt a month later and again numerous occupiers faced arrest, including the December 17 eight. The eight, those who did not accept plea deals, decided to try their luck in court instead.

Episcopalian priest George Packard is one of the eight protesters going to trial. A YouTube video with 3,400 views shows him leading a group of protesters over the lot’s fence on a ladder. According to The Guardian, he spoke outside the courtroom about the consequences for his faith:

“I’m concerned that the church I love has changed around me,” he said.

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