Please allow me to follow up on a story recently written by Katrina Pyne, “Occupiers Attempt Central Park.”
I was there at the Global Prayer Circle in Central Park on Friday night, and I was involved in the planning of the event.
A beautiful service was held there that lasted from 11:11 p.m. until about 1:20 a.m. Around 150 people congregated near Strawberry Fields, accompanied by over 100 uniformed officers of the NYPD. A police cruiser followed our procession on the sidewalk as we made our way into the park, and many police vehicles hovered around our prayer circle with their lights flashing throughout the whole ceremony. Before our group even arrived, a separate, unrelated prayer group of about a dozen women were detained by the NYPD and told to leave the park, even though curfew was hours away.
After 1:00 a.m, the NYPD told our legal observer that they were going to move in and arrest everyone, including the press and OWS medics, and charge them with criminal trespassing. They then proceeded to forcibly break up our church meeting during the middle of a very significant astrological and numerological event that only occurs once in a lifetime. NY 1 TV reporters and other photographers were pushed out at gunpoint.
A founder of the Church of Public Prayer was arrested along with two other congregants (known now collectively as the Central Park Three). They were charged with loitering and resisting arrest, though their resistance came only in the form of silent meditation while the police handcuffed them and carried their limp bodies to the paddy wagon.
The Central Park Three spent 19 hours in lock-up, most of it at “The Tomb,” the notorious Central Booking facility in downtown Manhattan. They were offered no food for 11 hours.
They were defended during arraignment by representatives of the National Lawyers Guild and released on their own recognizance with no bail posted. Court dates are set, and no plea bargain deal was offered. A national legal debate is brewing, and many think an important First Amendment case is imminent.
At stake are the right to free assembly, the right to free expression and religion, and the sanctity of the free press. The ACLU is getting involved.
This case will obviously have a huge impact on the fate of OWS, as first thousands, then tens of thousands of people begin to arrive in NYC looking for a place to assemble and petition the government. The Occupation of Central Park is almost inevitable, and these impending court cases may help define the limits of free speech in 21st century America.
The Church of Public Prayer plans on hosting many more prayer circles in Central Park and elsewhere. They are dedicated to the cause of spiritual freedom, and extremely motivated in their defense of the Constitution. More arrests will come, as well as further acts of peaceful civil disobedience.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for covering this important story. Please consider doing a follow-up on the Central Park Three. I think there will be growing interest in the topic, and you will be one of the first to break the news as it develops.
Please let me know if I can give you any further information or if I can facilitate interviews with those involved in the Global Prayer Circle.
I have included links to various sites on the web where pertinent information is posted.