A handful of Occupy Wall Street protesters have been holding a hunger strike since Saturday in the hopes of getting Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish downtown that has provided various services to occupiers for some time, to let them occupy a vacant lot that Trinity owns at Canal Street and Sixth Avenue. Trinity is also one of the largest landholders in Manhattan. They’re not into the protesters’ idea, and the three hunger strikers were arrested at noon yesterday at the lot, detained for five hours, and charged with trespassing. They were replaced by three other stand-ins and returned to the space after their release — only to be re-arrested around 11 p.m. We’re thinking that being arrested twice within 12 hours could be a new record for OWS arrests.
The hunger strikers include one man who has been a part of OWS since October, and two men who drove to New York from Provo, Utah after the Zuccotti raid. A rep from their “strike support team,” Laura Gottesdiener, was on the phone with the Voice as the police arrived at Duarte Square. “I think they’re about to evict us so I have to run,” she said.
Afterwards, Gottesdiener told us that the hunger strike people had been arrested again. She said that the arrest was “exceptionally peaceful.” According to Gottesdiener, eight paddy wagons and two undercover vehicles arrived on the scene; she said that almost three dozen cops were involved. They explained to the protesters that they were trespassing and arrested the three of them.
We couldn’t get any of the original three on the phone, since they were being arrested, but Gottesdiener transmitted us the following thought from one of them, 23-year-old Diego Ibanez of Provo: “Trinity has now authorized the arrest of peaceful hunger strikers twice in less than 12 hours. This sure looks like the actions of a billion-dollar real estate company instead of those of a church.”
Tomorrow morning, the three stand-ins will be back in the lot and Gottesdiener said they’re hoping others will join. The strikers have put out an open letter to Trinity which includes these three demands:
1. Meet with a designated delegation from Occupy Wall Street to discuss a future, mutually beneficial use of this site
2. Allow a peaceful hunger strike to continue on your property without fear of harassment or arrest
3. Drop today’s trespassing charges–and all past and future charges against us and other members of Occupy Wall Street incurred on this site