An Occupy Wall Street protester is refusing to eat or take his anti-retroviral medication until Trinity Church agrees to stop complying with the Manhattan DA's office in the prosecution of scores protesters arrested for trespassing last winter.
56-year-old Jack Boyle was one of the dozens of people arrested at Duarte Square on December 17, a space owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopalian Church. "Our savior Jesus Christ would never press charges against his brothers and sisters for walking on land, for steeping into a lot, on soil," Boyle says in a video announcing his decision. "I don't understand why they ever brought charges on us." Boyle has not taken his AIDS medication for 15 days, and has not eaten in 11 days. He still drinks coffee and smokes cigarettes.
Next Monday, approximately 20 protesters and clergy members—including retired Episcopalian Bishop George Packard—will face trial and penalties of more than 30 days in jail and fines. Trinity, which provided space for protesters to rest and regroup shortly after the eviction of Zuccotti Park and begged protesters to not enter Duarte Square, released a statement via email essentially stating that the charges are out of their hands:
Trinity does not have the legal ability to drop charges. Those cases are being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office. However, Trinity has contacted the District Attorney’s office and has been advised that the District Attorney has offered non-criminal dispositions without fines or incarceration to all those defendants who were arrested and charged with trespassing for simply being present at Duarte Square.
These statements are at best misleading in several ways. For example, not all arrestees who were “charged with trespassing for simply being present at Duarte Square” were offered “non-criminal dispositions without fines or incarceration.” While it is true that some (though not all) arrestees were offered Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal - non-pleas in which the Court takes the case off the calendar for six months and it is automatically dismissed and sealed if the defendant is not re-arrested or given a summons—arrestees and supporters have demanded flat-out dismissals. That Trinity contacted DANY and learned of possible disposition offers is unremarkable—anyone sitting in court when the cases are called can learn the same. Unlike others, however, Trinity can make these charges go away; and in fact, the prosecutions can’t go forward without Trinity’s active participation.
Oliver says that Trinity could write an open letter to the Manhattan DA's office asking them to drop the charges, or refuse to produce the church's general counsel and vital witness for the prosecution, Amy Jedlicka, in court; or comply with a subpoena filed by NLG-NYC attorney Paul Mills that serves to show that Trinity's order to exclude the protesters from the park didn't have a lawful basis.
Jedlicka was listed by Trinity as the property's custodian, and according to Trinity's motion to quash the protester's subpoena, she informed individual police officers that individual protesters were trespassing, which strikes us as unrealistic. "The subpoena supports the defense that the initial order to exclude didn't have a lawful basis," Oliver says. "How did she communicate with police? Where exactly did this happen? We'd like to see the documents they quote from in their motion to quash." You can read Trinity Chruch's motion to quash below.
Oliver adds that he saw Boyle at a demonstration in front of Trinity Church yesterday, "And as I far as I know he hasn't eaten" or taken his medication yet.