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Yesterday I took a walk down to the oldest part of New York City, where the Dutch landed and planted their flag near the current location of the Staten Island Ferry, where George Washington stood his officers rounds at Fraunces Tavern, now filled with Wall Street types, and where a bunch of smelly hippies stirred by an anti-Semitic Canadian magazine decided to squat a park in order to make a statement about their own need for attention.
Zuccotti Park has returned to its original function as a place where secretaries, construction workers and off-duty cops go to eat quick lunches bought from local fast food places or disease-ridden Halal Mafia food carts. The few plants wave in a breeze that blows between the narrow lanes of the financial district, which has some of the oldest and narrowest streets in the city. An information desk for OWS is the only sign of the occupation, with cardboard signs denouncing the NYPD and sarcastically informing the Indian and Russian tourists taking snapshots of the under-construction Freedom Tower; “And to think these ‘People’ are the ‘Heroes’ of ‘911’… Right.”
Occupy Wall Street has gone east, one block east. It no longer occupies Wall Street, instead it has transformed into Occupy Trinity Church. The media, which served as the unofficial PR corps for OWS, is not too enthusiastic about reporting that a movement which they hailed is busy trying to seize land from a historic Episcopalian church that dates back to 1697, in whose cemetery lie several signers of the Declaration of Independence and several delegates to the Continental Congress, not to mention several Revolutionary War generals and a fellow by the name of Alexander Hamilton.
Trinity was also an enthusiastic supporter of Occupy Wall Street, providing them with bathrooms and private conference rooms, but turning over Duarte Square was asking too much. After being evicted from Zuccotti Park, the OWS crowd assumed that they could bully Trinity into giving them the land with the “fact of their occupation.” Instead Duarte Square, named after Juan Pablo Duarte, a founder of the Dominican Republic, has become OWS’s Waterloo.
Despite several attempts to occupy Duarte Square, Trinity Church has held firm. After half a year, OWS has made less impact fighting Trinity than it has fighting Wall Street.
When I passed by, the sad remnant of Occupy Trinity Church was down to three people, one of them sitting with a plastic bucket designated for the “OWS Laundry Fund” and another with a sleeping bag marked “Occupied.” A cardboard sign proclaimed that Trinity Church had stolen Duarte Square from the Indians and should give it back to OWS, as representatives of the native peoples.
One sign accused Trinity Church of greedily sitting on 200 million dollars while refusing the homeless trustafarians of Occupy Wall Street a small measly strip of land for their campsite. On its websites, OWS has blasted Trinity for being aligned with the “1 percent” and spun conspiracy theories about its parish vestry, which they allege holds over 10 billion dollars in real estate assets.
But Trinity’s 1 percenters had no one to blame for their troubles but themselves. This was a church where at its “May Day Teach-In,” the Rev. Dr. James Forbes said that, “The Occupy Movement is a light from above through the people from below.”
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