MANHATTAN — Occupy Wall Street protesters seeking long-term use of a Trinity Church-owned lot in Hudson Square gained a powerful backer Thursday night, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged the house of worship to allow protesters to use the space.
In a "message of solidarity" posted to OccupyWallStreet.org that addressed protesters as "Sisters and Brothers," the South African Nobel Peace Prize winner likened his country's and the protesters' struggles and asked Trinity to work with them.
"I appeal to [Trinity] to find a way to help you," he wrote. "I appeal to them to embrace the higher calling of Our Lord Jesus Christ — which they live so well in all other ways."
Tutu added on Friday that protesters seeking to occupy land at the northeast corner of Varick and Canal streets, where demonstrators and a DNAinfo photographer were arrested Nov. 15, should not use his statement to justify breaking the law.
"It is not necessary to forcibly break into property. Nor is it [necessary] to reinforce or build higher the barriers between people of faith who seek peace and justice," he said.
Tutu's statements precede an all-day "Occupation 2.0" protest scheduled to take place at the Canal Street lot on Saturday, according to a Facebook page for the event.
"Join artists, musicians, and local community members for an all-day performance event in support of Occupy Wall Street’s re-occupation of space in downtown Manhattan," the page says.
The event, which runs from noon to 10:30 p.m., marks the three-month anniversary of the beginning of the protests in Zuccotti Park, which quieted after police ejected demonstrators from their Lower Manhattan encampment on Nov. 15.
Trinity says it has provided protesters with offices, meeting rooms, restrooms and pastoral services daily, but that allowing protesters to use the Canal Street lot would be "wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious."
The national and New York state heads of the Episcopal Church chimed in Friday about the Canal Street lot, which is a future development site currently leased by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
"It is regrettable that Occupy members feel it necessary to provoke potential legal and police action by attempting to trespass on other parish property," the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement.
"I would urge all concerned to stand down and seek justice in ways that do not further alienate potential allies."
The bishop of New York, Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk echoed her comments.
"The movement should not be used to justify breaking the law, nor is it necessary to break into property for the movement to continue," he said.
Protester Laura Gottesdiener said at Community Board 2's full monthly meeting Thursday night that demonstrators need the lot in order to "exercise their First Amendment rights."
Trinity's Director of Faith in Action, Rev. Matt Heyd, responded that use of the lot on Canal Street is not on the table.
"This is simply not a way we feel we can be engaged," he said.
CB2 passed a resolution in October urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to "respect the rights of all stakeholders as the peaceful, nonviolent [OWS] protests continue."
"I think the sense from [CB2] is that we would encourage Trinity and LMCC to engage in good faith negotiations with Occupy Wall Street to determine whether an agreement among the parties could be reached for the use of this vacant lot," board chair Brad Hoylman said Friday.