Since this summer a group of Occupy protesters have been sleeping on the sidewalk outside Trinity Church as part of a splinter group called "Occupy Trinity." The campers, some of them homeless crusty punks, have targeted the highly prosperous church for, among other things, refusing to let Occupy use Duarte Square, a parcel of land which is owned by the church that has gone unused for some time. The church's location, just two blocks from Zuccotti Park, has also served as a convenient retreat for protesters when the NYPD threatens arrests at Zuccotti.
But Trinity's rector, Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, appears to be reaching his breaking point: He's gone and canceled Halloween. In a post on Trinity's website, Cooper shares the sad news:
It is with great regret that we are obliged to cancel our popular annual Halloween activities this year. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution as we continue to face safety issues arising from the sidewalk camp in front of Trinity Church.
This week, a long-time maintenance superintendent at Trinity was the victim of an assault as he was attempting to perform the morning cleaning of the sidewalk areas affected by the camp. There have been nine arrests related to the camp since it began.
Cancelling a beloved family event is not a decision taken lightly. Last year, more than 1,200 people took part. However, we are deeply concerned about the escalating illegal and abusive activity the camp presents.
Regarding the alleged assault, Trinity spokeswoman Linda Hanick elaborates that last week someone in the encampment "put an air horn up to the worker's ear while he was trying to clean" and then "blasted" it. The employee had to seek medical care as a result, Hanick tells DNAinfo, adding that police arrested the air horn blaster.
Dana Balicki, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, knew nothing of the alleged assault, but tells the website, "We've always worked really hard to maintain good relations with Trinity, but it's always been difficult. This isn't surprising coming from Cooper." Both Cooper and Trinity, which is overseen by the Episcopal Diocese of New York, have been criticized internally by board members for spending too little on charity. The church's annual operating budget is nearly $200 million, but some former vestry members complain that only about $2.7 million per year goes to international philanthropy. But at least Rev. Cooper's saving money by not buying Halloween decorations this year?