December 19, 2011 — The New York Civil Liberties Union today wrote to New York City officials and Brookfield Properties asking them to accommodate a Christmas prayer vigil at Zuccotti Park.
Occupy Faith, which is composed of members of an Occupy Wall Street Christian interest group, is planning to hold a 24-prayer vigil in Zuccotti Park to begin at midnight on Christmas Eve and continue to midnight Christmas Day.
“The city has enabled religious events in parks in the past, including a 1995 mass in Central Park led by Pope John Paul II ,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “It is entirely appropriate for the city to allow these folks to pray together in the park. It should do so without restricting any items the group believes are necessary to express its faith.”
The NYCLU asked the city and Brookfield Properties to allow the group to bring items into the park, including food, chairs, prayer mats and musical instruments, during the vigil. Since the NYPD cleared the protesters’ encampment in Zuccotti Park on Nov. 16, Brookfield security guards and police officers have prevented some people from entering the park with many of these items.
Occupy Faith will not violate any of the park rules. The vigil will not include camping, erecting structures, lying on the ground, placing tarps and sleeping bags on the property, or anything else that unreasonably interferes with others’ ability to enjoy the park.
“Love is completely free,” said Sebastian OWS, an organizer of the vigil. “This economy hasn't hurt love. This year, for the first time, people are finding themselves jobless and finding themselves newly homeless. They're in situations of great despair. We are the reaction to that.”