A group called Occupy Faith is planning to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil in Zuccotti Park from midnight on Christmas Eve to midnight the next day, and they’re worried that Brookfield Properties won’t allow it to happen. Occupy Christmas would involve food and musical instruments, two things that Brookfield security usually bans from ZP. After the eviction of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield installed guards in the park to enforce the new regime, which includes restrictions against camping gear and lying down.
They reached out to the NYCLU, who sent a letter to Brookfield and to the NYPD asking that the demonstrators not be obstructed.
Their letter reads in part:
Occupy Faith has plans to bring into the park food for meals as well as bread and sacramental wine for communion. A communion table will be used for such purposes. They also intend to distribute prayer mats and floor padding so that they may kneel in prayer for long periods of time, as well as chairs for the elderly and disabled. In addition, members plan to play musical instruments during their celebration. Finally, Occupy Faith members will use candles for their Advent ceremonies. Occupy Faith believes that bringing these items and engaging in these activities is central to their
form of worship.
Occupy Faith does not intend to violate the rules of Zuccotti Park. Occupy Faith does not
plan on camping, erecting structures, lying on the ground, placing tarps and sleeping bags on the property, or storing personal property in a way which unreasonably interferes with the use of the area by others.
NYCLU rep Jennifer Carnig told us that Brookfield “hasn’t responded at all to the organizers.”
“There have been issues with bringing things in the park, including food,” Carnig said.
“They can’t hold their Christmas celebration without food and music.”
Sebastian OWS (that’s the name he gives “in solidarity with the movement”), an organizer of Occupy Christmas who slept in ZP for five weeks, said that he’d tried repeatedly to get permission from Brookfield and the city and eventually felt like he had to turn to the NYCLU to get a response.
As for why this is happening in Zuccotti as opposed to somewhere else where it might be easier, Sebastian said that “it’s a symbolic thing.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 19, 2011