Episcopal Church’s role as landlord gets even more complicated

Episcopal clergy among 50 arrested at Duarte Square protest
December 19, 2011 12:25PM

Two Episcopal priests and a retired Episcopal bishop were detained after entering Duarte Square, which is owned by Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal church, in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, the Episcopal News Service reported.

George Packard, a former bishop, and Revs. John Merz and the Michael Sniffen, Episcopal priests with the diocese of Long Island, were arrested along with about 50 other protestors at the site. As has been previously reported, Occupy Wall Street protestors have been lobbying the church to allow them to camp in the space, at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street, since being forced from Zuccotti Park last month.

The church is one of New York City’s largest landlords, and had previously provided Wi-Fi and power at its 109 Greenwich Street property, between Carlisle and Rector streets, to Occupiers.

OWS had invited protesters this past Saturday to attend a “Block Party and Re-Occupation” at Duarte Square at noon. The event was supposed to include live entertainment, but it was cut short quickly when the police interceded.

Sniffen told the Episcopal News that he was concerned about being arrested before the protest and was not sure if he would join protestors in trespassing at Duarte Square until the last moment when he decided to proceed.

“As a matter of conscience and discernment, I felt that I had to enter… in solidarity with these people who I’ve been supporting from the beginning and who are taking an enormous risk to force a conversation to happen about social and economic justice,” he said. [Episcopal News Service]