The verdict and sentencing for the Duarte defendants came yesterday afternoon. The day was marked by the completion of testimony from Bishop George Packard and the testimony of Rev. James Cooper, Rector and CEO of Trinity Wall Street.
I remember when the Anita Hill hearings were going on, Clarence Thomas would look from side to side during questioning – like someone behind a painting in a Scooby Doo episode set in a haunted house. Thomas was literally shifty-eyed.
In downtown Manhattan yesterday, family and friends of the defendants were galvanized at the sight of Rector James Cooper on the stand. Wearing the vestments of someone who had taken vows for the priesthood, he visibly turned his head away from the courtroom. No eye contact.
Then came the testimony. I give Cooper the benefit of the doubt, he most likely has a bad memory. He couldn’t recall a petition in late 2011 with over 13,000 signatures on it asking Trinity Wall Street to give Occupy Wall Street sanctuary. Another petition -again with over 13,000 signatures on it- to ask for clemency and forgiveness when it came to prosecuting the defendants who would not be suppressed with ACDs. He forgot about 15 additional phone calls between himself and George Packard . (Jim – we could really use some reimbursement for those calls. Happy to show your people the Verizon bill.)
There were many moments where Cooper was unsure and unclear. And that’s all right, really because he’s human. But he’s a human who gets an annual package of over 1 million dollars. He sanctions teach-ins and gives lip service to the values of OWS. Is this how Wall Street and the corporate ethos has corrupted The Episcopal Church? I know of golden parachutes given to failing rectors, but are we seeing right in front of us the phenomenon exemplified during the administration of Bush 43 – that of “failing upwards”? (Heckuva job Brownie!)
Cooper not only unleashed the brutal berserker of our so-called justice machine, he did nothing to stop it. He said nothing about the violence done to OWS nor about the violence done to people gathered around Duarte Square on December 17th. Beatings done in his name.
…or your personal benefits and perks.
The defense team – Paul Mills, Meghan Maurus, Gideon Oliver, and Martin Stolar – presented insightful closing statements. The heart of the matter is First Amendment rights. Does private property trump free speech? According to Judge Matthew Sciarrino, yes. Yes it does.
The first sentencing was alphabetical and the most harsh. Mark Adams, a sweet spirit, comrade of everyone in OWS got 45 days in Rikers. Forty five days for clipping a chain link fence and trespassing on property that never really belonged to Trinity Wall Street in the first place.
Sentencing statements were made by Bishop George Packard and Medic Ed Mortimer. Packard’s can be read on his blog Occupied Bishop. Ed’s statement and his humanitarian witness will be written about soon.
The trial transcript is a rich document.The morality play that is this trial, what it uncovered about The Episcopal Church’s collusion and adoption of the Wall Street/corporate culture will be unpacked and explored for years.
Most important now, is active support for Mark Adams through visiting, writing letters, advocacy, and prayer. Parishioners of Trinity Wall Street – some portraits of the man Jim Cooper sent to the environment that is Rikers Island.