By Bishop George Packard
“Flexibility” is the word I’d apply to the Occupy Faith response to the OWS anniversary weekend of 15-17 September.
On Saturday, the 15th, through our “A People’s Investigation” format convened at Washington Square we had intended to circulate among the crowd at the Town Square Meeting after a big announcement. We worked from an information table in a bazaar-like atmosphere opposite the fountain. But OWS was running late and the People’s Microphone began two hours late. We were recording stories and getting traction, though, but also distributing tracts and networking. It was a smart idea for Jill to convene a circle conversation about API during the breakout session. There were some extraordinary moments of sharing on that patch of lawn, especially the interviews orchestrated by Steve Golin.
On Sunday, the 16th, Occupy Faith’s meditation and “connecting presence” after the concert and as a means to escort the crowd to the Rosh Hashana service became an evolving story. A good one, but filled with changes by 10 minute intervals. OF was the entity which negotiated with the NYPD about the route of procession…surprise, surprise! It worked out fine but I was to realize again the next day that OWS—despite weeks of planning—depends on Occupy Faith-like groups to be in the core of action though they may not say so. Sr. Susan gave a rousing meditation, Brook taught a song, and I gave a message and then we processed, singing, down to Zuccotti from Foley without incident. Donna gave greetings to the Rosh Hashana gathering which filled jubilantly filled Zuccotti.
And then there was Monday! (the 17th) Grace Davie convened us in front of St. Paul’s Chapel (Front and Broadway) because of concerns about confusion at the Red Square rallying point. After counting noses we set off. Heretofore, I expected we’d circumnavigate the perimeter of the financial district pausing with a bit of reflection here (Don Fleck’s fine piece), a reading there. But as we settled in at the Red Cube and after William read the Occupy Faith vision statement and Chris Hedges spoke, our numbers started to grow…substantially. OWS’s Andy Smith took over the agenda—as per the plan–and asked for testimonies from the crowd now numbering about 500. Then he turned to me and asked if I’d rehearse everybody in CD…right on the spot. Which I did. (I should have taken that moment to assemble OF around me and to appoint sub leaders for a group that had grown so quickly. We did emphasize if arrests happen to re-group, though.) Then Andy and “Hambone” of OWS asked me to lead the crowd down to the checkpoint at Wall and Broadway.
I started to—but then stopped—and called for Occupy Faith to get at the head of line. In the crush of crowd and photographers that became useless. So we kept walking. Upon arriving at the checkpoint Captain Purcell asked my intentions and I said we were here to protest. He indicated we couldn’t remain stationary since we were impeding financial district workers from going to work. I said, “That’s the idea.” “You have to move.” He said. This implied backing the procession up since the cops wouldn’t allow us in the street and the press crowded us on the east side of Broadway. (One of the barriers facing us was a paddy wagon parked conspicuously by the curb.) So we sat down and were arrested.
After we arrived in jail follow-up arrestees brought news of the heroics and witness of other Occupy Faithers. It made my heart glad.
I realized in the holding cell that Occupy Faith had come full circle as we listened to the stories of fellow cellmates. It was API again. Sharing those narratives remain with me now with a bond in our common struggle and humanity. It’s a dynamic which seems blessed.
As diverse faith community leaders and other people of good will, we are called to remind all Americans of their moral obligation to pursue justice and act on behalf of all those in need. We believe that the continuing suffering of millions of Americans harmed by the financial crisis must be front and center in public discourse and decision-making about economic and financial system reform. To ensure that economic and political power brokers are no longer able to avert their eyes from the suffering they have caused, we are launching “A People’s Investigation: The Human Cost and Moral Implications of the Financial Crisis,” a project that will collect and publicize these stories; analyze their policy implications; and serve as a catalyst for change.
On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the National Council of Elders (NCOE) released the Greensboro Declaration, the first statement of the organization since its founding a month ago. The NCOE founding conference was held in Greensboro, NC, site of the historic Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, which represented a major advance in the civil rights struggle.
The Declaration ias presented at significant historic sites of struggle and freedom in Washington, DC, Detroit, MI; and New York. The NCOE sees its mission as passing down both its wisdom and missteps to coming generations , especially to young people.
Baptist Minister Eric Jackson (center) and Rev. Jeff Mansfield (right) are both members of the national multi-faith religious group Occupy Faith. Photo by Alaia Howell.
Religious representation was strong today as members of the Occupy Faith organization brought leadership to Occupy Wall Street’s one-year anniversary demonstrations in downtown Manhattan.
Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, one of the many religious figures who represent a national multi-faith coalition of religious leaders known as Occupy Faith, assembled a large crowd of protestors at Zuccotti Park this morning before police arrested him nearly 30 minutes later at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street.
“Part of the Christian message is that God is with the poor,” said Reverend Jeff Mansfield from the First Congregational Church Somerville UCC near Cambridge, Mass. “Usury is wrong.”
Read more: http://pavementpieces.com/still-occupying-god-is-with-the-poor/
By Ari Paul
Jeanette Friedman looked over the crowd of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street supporters in Zuccotti Park on the evening of Sept. 16, and all she could do was gush about her son.
“I can’t believe how many people are here,” she shouted to her boy, Dan Sieradski, who was helping to lead a Rosh Hashanah service the night before the one-year anniversary of the movement’s birth. Once derided as a quixotic endeavor, Occupy is now credited by many with helping to reinvent social justice activism in America for the 21st century.
Sieradski said it was “fortuitous” that the first anniversary would fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the Occupy Faith contingent of OWS worked with the main planners of the Sept. 17 actions, which was to include civil disobedience in the financial district, to allot time for the New Year’s service the night before, so that it would not overlap with any other protests or actions.
- ally with unions and others to promote fair wages for all, especially low-wage workers
- work for fair tax policy
- join coalitions supporting constitutional change to get money out of politics and limit the power of corporations
- participate in events and initiatives organized to promote justice and fairness, and encourage others in our congregations and elsewhere to take actions consistent with their faith traditions and moral principles
- take non-violent, direct action to the streets and halls of corporate and government power.
“We need Occupy Faith’s spiritual presence especially now—it is an ingredient of the power OWS can rightfully claim on behalf of individual dignity.”~Lisa Fithian, OWS organizer
Since the first days of Occupy Wall Street one year ago, people of faith allied with the movement because of our frustration with an unjust society, our desire to speak truth to power, and our hope that a better world is possible. One year later we have learned many lessons, we have had to go back to the drawing board again and again, but underneath it all remains the knowledge that real change will not come through business as usual, but only when we learn how to stand together and make our common dreams a reality.
So this September 15th-17th, we ask for everyone who was inspired by the Occupy phenomenon not only to celebrate what happened, but to think forward 10 years, to consider what we would need to be doing now for the kind of real change we will want to see then. That is why here at Occupy Faith, we are calling for a truth commission: a way to pull back the veil of shame and get people talking about what their lives actually looks like under our broken economic system.
We’re calling it “A People’s Investigation of Money, Debt, and Power,” and in the days and weeks ahead we will be giving you more information about how you and your communities of faith can get involved. Because now is the time for all people of faith to have faith in all people, to remember the power of sharing our stories, and to know that the only antidote for the insanity and alienation of our culture is the cultivation of a Beloved Community in the here and now.
So join us this coming weekend – join us as we celebrate how far we’ve come (who would have believed a year ago that an escalation of tactics in Zuccotti Park would turn into a global movement?), and join us as we look ahead to the future. Year one is over, but year two is just getting started. See you in the streets.
Occupy Faith actions on the #OWS anniversary
A People’s Investigation
Saturday, September 15
12 pm – 4pm
Washington Square (possibily moved to Foley Square)
Occupy Faith will introduce the A People’s Investigation experience. This approach to pursuing truth and justice consists of 3 phases: 1) Gathering stories of loss 2) Naming the themes and compiling recommendations and 3) pursuit of transformative advocacy. In this session, you will learn how to gather stories of pain and loss and contribute them to a website for the world to see. This will be our beta launch so let’s work together and figure out the best methodology.
Sunday, September 16
10 am – 12:30 pm
We will begin the service with the blowing of the Shofar by Apostle Leeds, as our call to interfaith worship, and each minister shall take turns in the presentation of prayers on behalf of the people present, of the city and state of New York, the Country, and the world. It shall be our mandate in the worship service to set forth the moral imperative of the OccupyMovement from a faith perspective and we’ll speak to the heart of America, to the condition of our country, and the corruption and greed both in Wall Street and in our government. Service will include prayer, songs, hallowing of Zuccotti Park, sermon, blessing of the NYPD.
Training after Music Concert
Sunday, September 16
Civil disobedience training will immediately follow the concert’s conclusion with a possibly of thematic break out activities.
Sunday, September 16
Occupy Faith reps will end the Foley Square concert with brief remarks and lead a procession to Zuccotti Park. Occupy Faith supporters will stand behind the speakers. Procession will continue until the Rosh Hashana service begins at 7:30 pm.
#S17 Morning Action
Monday, September 17
Meet 6:45 am, Direct Actions at 7 am
“Red Cube” across from Zuccotti Park
This location is one of thefour organizational zones OWS is using that ring the financial district for a ‘people’s arrest’. We will offer prayer and strengthen occupiers presence. We will then process to three other zones in support. Each zone has a security check point for access to the Stock Exchange. OWS emergency media contacts us for immediate presence at any zone needing special help and presence. For those participating in these actions, please send your cell # to George Packard, geopackard (at) gmail.com. It is critical to keep connected during this deployment as we may have to be nimble or loose in structure and potentially leave Occupy Faith members in each zone as we make the circuit. Click here to read more about #OWS’ #S17 plans.
For more information, click here.