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Historic NYC Church Will Hold Pro-Occupy May Day 'Teach-In' Today to Coincide With 'General Strike


"...one of the most important movements since the Civil Rights and antiwar movements of the 50s and 60s."

Back in November, Occupy Wall Street protesters cut through a fence on a lot owned by Trinity Church, a major landowner in Manhattan. Faith leaders, of course, were immensely surprised by the act of aggression, especially considering that the house of worship had been very supportive of the Occupiers (they provided them with bathrooms, free Internet and other services).

But now, months later, the Episcopal house of worship is overtly supporting the Occupiers' May Day protests with a special "teach-in" event. Additionally, the church's web site shows other examples of in-depth and deep-rooted praise for the movement's adherents.

A screen shot from the TrinityWallStreet.org web site

On its web site, Trinity is advertising the pro-Occupy teach-in event and claiming that it is being held in an effort to "support and reflect upon the Occupy Wall Street movement." Here's the official description for the initiative, which seems to serve as a blend of Occupy praise and worship:

In an effort to support and reflect upon the Occupy Wall Street movement, Trinity Wall Street will host an event on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, featuring author Joyce Carol Oates, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes, and others. From 2-5pm, religious and secular thinkers will speak about the moral and political issues that confront the Occupy movement and all those concerned with justice and reconciliation. Part conference, part spiritual renewal, and part rally, the event will consist of a series of brief talks, sermons, and musical interludes.

While no longer encamped at Zuccotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street movement has found a permanent place in the political landscape. It is perhaps one of the most important movements since the Civil Rights and antiwar movements of the 50s and 60s. This event is intended in the spirit of teach-ins and Trinity’s own community-building efforts during that era, and coincides with a general May Day strike planned by Occupy Wall Street.

As stated, the event will include professors, Occupy officials, faith leaders and others. Forbes, for one, has been highly content with the movement, even taking to his Huffington Post blog to praise it.

"It is inconceivable that this movement is not in some way a press toward making America a more democratic society, both socially and economically," the minister of Riverside Church in New York City wrote back in November.

This, of course, is only one example of the sort of language that will likely be issued during the teach-in event at Trinity.

Initially, the general public was invited to attend and to hear from the long list of presenters (published on the church's web site). On Monday, though, Trinity posted a message on the event page claiming that "very large crowds of protesters are expected in Lower Manhattan" and that city officials told the church that "public transportation may be disrupted."

To rectify the situation, the church is still planning to hold the event -- but it will be available via webcast only. Interested parties can tune in to TrinityWallStreet.org from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. ET to watch.

This event, though, isn't the only show of support the church has offered. In fact, there is a slideshow of images on its web site that accompany explanations of how the church has assisted the movement. Here are some excerpts taken from it:

  • A neighborhood center, free and open to all. Charlotte's Place receives between 2-300 protesters per day.
  • From the start of the occupation, protesters were welcomed at Charlotte’s Place, which is a short walk from Zuccotti Park. The wi-fi access is a big draw for those needing email and Internet access. It's a pretty safe bet some of the OWS website was built at Charlotte's Place.
  • The Charlotte's Place conference room is a popular place to convene meetings.
  • The parish has hosted fourteen OWS-related meetings and counting.
  • Charlotte's Place has boosted its programming, offering daily music, forums, and counseling sessions.

While the church is certainly welcome to support Occupy if it so chooses, why it would do so in light of past events -- and knowing the often violent and off-kilter antics protesters have engaged in -- is curious to say the least.

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