OWS protesters tried to set up a new encampment in a vacant lot in lower Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood Saturday, but failed when police entered the area and made arrests. Retired New York Bishop George Packard was first over the fence. He was among those busted.
The foiled attempt marks a day of disappointment for Occupiers who view a dedicated and visible physical presence as necessary for growing the movement. Trinity Church, which owns the unused lot, has refused to make it available to OWS. On Friday, two Occupiers finished the 14th day of a hunger strike intended to pressure the church to open up the lot.
Demonstrators timed Saturday’s effort to honor the one-year anniversary of the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose act of defiance is credited with kicking off the Arab Spring. —ARK
Josh Harkinson with Mother Jones:
After Bishop Packard tumbled over the fence, he climbed onto a wooden bench and waved for the crowd to follow. Other priests mounted the ladder while the the crowd yanked up the base of the fence to make a large opening. Someone cut the lock on a gate. Soon, dozens of people were inside, talking, dancing to rap music from a boom box, and urging the rest of the crowd to join them. But the party couldn’t last. The police, taken off guard at first, came pouring through the gate with flex cuffs and arrested everyone who didn’t flee, including Packard. I personally witnessed about a half dozen arrests in progress, but the final tally will probably be higher.