Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, June 18th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments
Speaking of the Occupiers and the Episcopal Organization, the feud between Trinity-Wall Street and the Episcopal left just heated up in a major way:
Retired Bishop George Packard and seven other defendants have been found guilty of trespassing for climbing a fence and entering an empty lot owned by Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street in December. Packard and six others defendants were sentenced to four days of community service and assessed fines. One defendant, Mark Adams, was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
According to CNBC, Adams got time in the hole for engaging in actual vandalism.
Eight Occupy Wall Street members were convicted on Monday of criminal trespass for breaking into a fenced-in private lot last December during a protest.
The protesters scaled an eight-foot fence, ignoring signs that warned against trespassing, and entered a plaza known as Duarte Square that is owned by historic Trinity Church, one of lower Manhattan’s largest land-owners.
The one-week trial in Manhattan Criminal Court pitted the church, once a strong ally of the movement, against Occupy supporters, who pressured church leaders not to cooperate with the prosecution.
In the trial before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino, one defendant, Mark Adams, was also convicted of trying to slice through the fence’s locks with bolt-cutters.
A defense mouthpiece played the “good cause” card.
“I’m not shocked, but I’m disappointed that the court felt private property interests trumped our clients’ good-faith defenses,” said Gideon Oliver Orion, one of four defense lawyers.
But a DA office spokeswoman didn’t buy it.
In a statement, Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, said the office “greatly respects the First Amendment right of citizens to protest” but that its exercise must not violate the law.
If you’re interested, you can read OWS whining about the verdicts on Twitter here and here. Packard’s already out thanking God that he is not as other men are and he should have some sort of reaction up at his site soon.
So far, the reaction at Naughton’s has been uniformly hostile to Trinity. Might this translate into GenCon 2012 fireworks? I doubt it. Last December, Katharine Jefferts Schori and New York Bishop Mark Sisk issued statements supporting Trinity but have said nothing about these convictions.
Trinity might face some kind of censure resolution or resolutions at GenCon that will express, in varying degrees, how angry the lefties are but otherwise won’t do more than that. After all, it’s never a good idea to come down too hard on your cash cow.
UPDATE: Here’s the ENS report.
A retired Episcopal bishop and a priest from the Episcopal Diocese of New York were among seven people convicted June 18 on charges of trespassing on property owned by Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, during a Dec. 17 Occupy Wall Street demonstration and sentenced to four days of community service.
George Packard, former Episcopal bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries, and Earl Kooperkamp, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, had faced up to 90 days in prison on the most serious charge, Packard’s lawyer, Gideon Oliver, had previously told ENS.
An eighth defendant, Mark Adams, was convicted of trespassing and additional charges of attempted criminal mischief and attempted possession of burglar’s tools, reportedly for trying to use bolt-cutters to slice through the fence surrounding the property. He was sentenced to 45 days in prison on Rikers Island and taken from court in handcuffs, Oliver said in a telephone interview after the trial.
Packard and Kooperkamp were among 65 people arrested, including Diocese of Long Island priests the Rev. John Merz and the Rev. Michael Sniffen, on Dec. 17 after entering the property in Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan as part of an Occupy Wall Street event marking the end of the third month since the movement’s launch.
Merz and Sniffen copped pleas.
Merz, priest-in-charge at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Sniffen, priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn, accepted a six-month adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) on Feb. 28, which means the charges against them were dismissed and they would have no criminal record if they were not arrested again in the next six months, according to a court official.
While Packard was, well, Packard.
Trinity did not have to pursue the charges, but it opted to “protect fiduciary interests,” Packard told ENS. “It’s pretty sad. I mean, this is what our church has come to. You don’t have enough pledging units to sustain many places. So we depend on the cash flow of corporate investment. It’s a caricature of what the gospel is.”
“I also probably will be arrested again,” said Packard, who has continued to participate in the Occupy movement and blogs about his experiences. “I’m not looking to be arrested, but the chances are pretty high.”
“Trespass is a word that I’m not used to hearing as it’s related to church property,” Packard said. “I hear expressions like ‘refuge’ and ‘sanctuary,’ and even … in the Trinity newsletter they talk about ‘radical hospitality.’”
“It’s bewildering to me that Trinity has gone ahead with prosecuting these arrests. I fully thought they would just drop the charges,” Packard said. “I don’t put ‘trespass’ and ‘church property’ in the same sentence, somehow. Maybe I’m just naïve.”
That’s a good word for it. But not for the reason you think, Bishop.