The Blaze has confirmed that Occupy Wall Street protesters cut through a fence on a lot owned by Trinity Church, a major landowner in Manhattan. Earlier this morning, the New York Times reported:
The protesters had their eye on the church’s lot. In mid-morning, a delegation of protesters said they were trying to obtain permission from church officials to occupy the lot.
It was not clear how that negotiation went, but at 11 a.m. two protesters dressed in black, wearing black bandannas over the lower part of their faces, used bolt cutters to snip through the chain-link fence and the crowd began streaming in.
Below, see video of what appears to be a portion of the aforementioned negotiations between Trinity and the Occupiers. In the clip, you’ll also hear faith leaders speak about why they have joined the protest movement:
The church, which has been supportive of the protests thus far, became aware of the event (located not at the church but at a separate location) at the same time media reported on it, indicating that it wasn’t approved by Trinity’s leaders.
The Blaze called the church and spoke with Kathy Formisano in Trinity’s communications office. “I just heard the same thing that you heard. Yes it’s happening. We’re in the midst of trying to figure out whats going on,” she said.
The lot, she explained, is a piece of land that is owned by the church. While not connected to the house of worship, it is nearby. The location is frequently used for art and cultural exhibits that are unrelated to the church. “We did not allow this,” she confirmed.
So far, the church has been very supportive of the anti-Wall Street movement. “Our position, to date, has been to be very welcoming. They had the general assembly meeting here last Friday in one of our spaces.” In fact, the church has also allowed the protesters to use a community center it owns. The center offers free Internet access and bathrooms.
When asked if the break-in would impact the support the church has offered, Formisano said, “I hope not. I don’t know.” The church plans to release a statement to the media soon.
Around 11:50 a.m. EST, protesters said, via the Occupy live feed, that the church has asked them to leave and is saying that they are not welcome. But directly after this statement was made, protesters then said that this wasn’t an official word from the church.
Around 11:55 a.m. EST, the police moved in and arrested numerous individuals who had crossed onto the church’s property. The Times reports:
At least four journalists, including a reporter and a photographer from The Associated Press, a reporter from The Daily News and a photographer from DNAInfo, were led out in plastic handcuffs.
A few of the detentions were done roughly — one man was thrown on the ground by the police and officers kneeled on his back. But most were more routine.
Watch the chaotic clash between police and protesters here (caution: language and violence):
Watch the live Occupy video feed here.
Editor’s note: We changed the word “locks” to “fence,” as original reports indicated that protesters cut the locks outside of the lot. Later, it became evident that they had cut through the fence. In our conversation with Trinity, the word “locks” was used as well. As the story developed, we made this amendment.