Archives for the month of: April, 2012

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From the Oakland Tribune:

OAKLAND — A man studying to be a Jesuit priest was sentenced to six days in a county jail work program and two years court probation Monday in the first successful prosecution of a case related to the Occupy Oakland movement.

Joseph Hoover, of Berkeley, was found guilty last week of a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a thoroughfare during a violent demonstration in January that resulted in the arrests of more than 300 protesters who attempted to take over the vacant Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt.

Hoover, who is studying to be a priest at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, said he was arrested when he stopped in the street to protect a homeless man from being trampled by a line of police officers who were advancing on a group of protesters.

Hoover testified during his brief jury trial and said after his sentencing Monday that he did nothing wrong and obeyed all police orders but was still arrested.

Evidence in the trial, however, revealed that Hoover was an active participant in the protest and did not attend the Jan. 28 demonstration simply to observe.

While a jury found Hoover guilty of obstructing a thoroughfare it deadlocked on a charge against Hoover of resisting arrest, and the District Attorney’s Office decided to drop the charge rather than seek another trial.

Hoover said Monday that he was proud of taking part in an Occupy event and said he has not ruled out doing so again.

“The cop was doing what he felt he had to do and I felt I did what I had to do,” Hoover said. “I’m grateful to be part of the Occupy movement.”

Deputy District Attorney Angela Chew asked a judge Monday to sentence Hoover to three years court probation because Hoover insisted in taking the case to a jury trial rather than take a plea deal and because he continued to defend his actions.

“The defendant did not take responsibility for his actions early on,” Chew said in court.

After the sentencing, Chew said she sought a three-year court probation because that was the routine punishment for a misdemeanor offense.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carl Morris said he would only sentence Hoover to a two-year court probation as he refused both Chew’s request for a three-year probation and Hoover’s attorney’s request for a one-year probation. Morris also refused Hoover’s attorney’s request to not send her client to the county sheriff’s work program.

“It would seem to me that the work program wouldn’t hurt him,” Morris said.

Hoover was offered a plea deal before the trial in which he would have been found guilty of a misdemeanor disturbing the peace offense and faced two years court probation, but he refused the deal.

The Catholic bishops haven’t had much to say while their co-religionist Paul Ryan pushes through his budgetary assault on the 99%. But if they won’t speak on behalf of the Catholic social justice tradition—much less the ancient prophets’ blistering cries against injustice—others will have to do so instead.

That’s why, on Good Friday last week, I was among the group of Occupy Catholics who stood in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City singing, “Were you there when they crucified the poor?” and carrying an enormous banner to that effect. Many of us wore, safety-pinned to our clothes, Occupy Catholics patches designed by Mary Valle: a haloed bird nesting—occupying, that is—for the sake of new life.

What’s brought Occupy Catholics together as a group around the country, both online and in person, is the shared sense that the Occupy movement’s message speaks to the heart of our faith. Though the group includes clergy, it’s decidedly lay-driven and committed to non-hierarchical organizing. A number of Occupy Catholics are among the so-called “lapsed”: people who haven’t felt comfortable being part of a Catholic anything for years until this came along. The idea is to find ways for Catholics to support the Occupy movement, as well as to think together about challenges the movement poses to our church.

“We are the church, and we love our church, and right now the church needs to speak,” we declared through the people’s mic at St. Patrick’s. “Love of neighbor is incompatible with watching her sink into poverty.”

Occupy Catholics joined forces for the day with Catholics United, which made the banner we carried together and took the occasion to deliver a petition calling on Cardinal Timothy Dolan to use his influence to oppose Paul Ryan’s budget. While Occupy Catholics supports that urge, we’re more interested in finding new ways to speak for ourselves, to occupy the church more fully.

After an our or so of making our presence felt, and following a short debriefing at a nearby cafe, a couple of us went back to the cathedral for Cardinal Dolan’s standing-room-only Good Friday service. The first step of occupying Catholicly is showing up, and praying with our church, and being in its midst.

Also published at Religion Dispatches.

See photos on our Facebook page and at Rachel Maddow’s blog. Here’s what we all proclaimed at the cathedral:

We are Occupy Catholics.
We’re here this Good Friday
because we are the church
and we love our church
and right now the church needs to speak.
Our God-made-flesh
died two thousand years ago
at the hands of the empire’s 1%
trying to protect their power.
Now in our time
more and more millions
are becoming jobless
and healthcare-less
and homeless
and hopeless
while the 1% get richer.
Charity is not enough.
Love of neighbor is incompatible
with watching her sink into poverty.
An economy that needs to be fed
with the bread of workers and the poor
and with brutal police force
and with perpetual war
is an abomination.
We invite
we implore
all people to cry out:
We will not be forsaken!
We are the 99%!
Made in God’s image!
Seeking God’s justice!

Occupy Catholics was featured on Rachel Maddow’s blog for our joint Good Friday action with Catholics United. See our own photos by the Occupy Catholics Media Committee here on Facebook. And learn more about the action on the event page.

As part of Pax Christi’s annual Way of the Cross across Midtown Manhattan on Good Friday, 2012, Occupy Catholics presented a reflection and prayers at the 13th Station on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

Occupy Catholics will read the following as part of Pax Christi’s Good Friday Way of the Cross event in New York City.

In the early morning of last November 15, the legions of this principality swarmed the people’s tent city in Liberty Square, a place that was real in every way that what surrounds us here is not. A month before, thousands of people had come to protect our tents, but this time most stood by in silence, letting our Zion fall. With helicopters overhead and shields, the legions kept those of us outside away from where they were beating our friends, destroying our library, our food, our medicine. All night we marched through the streets, not knowing where was safe, until finally, as sunrise approached, we collected ourselves under the looming buildings that had been issuing Pilate’s justifications and decrees. We held a general assembly. We heard each other’s voices, and echoed them, and our fingers wiggled above our heads in unity. That night, by the thousands, we returned to Zion, and beheld it, destroyed and cleared and re-sanitized, made safe for the corporate kingdom. Again, we heard each other’s voices, and echoed them, and our fingers wiggled above our heads in unity. The principality could evict our bodies, and our tents, but it cannot evict our spirit.

Jim Keane, SJ, in America:

This morning in my class at the Jesuit School of Theology on “Jesuit Priesthood: Theory and Praxis,” our opening prayer included the following verses from Psalm 142: “When my spirit grows faint within me,/You know my way;/ In the path where I walk, /they have hidden a trap for me.”

Only an hour earlier, in a far different locale, I had watched while a fellow Jesuit and classmate of mine, Joseph Hoover, S.J., was found guilty by a jury of his peers in a courtroom at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, CA, for the crime of “obstructing a public thoroughfare.”  His alleged (I suppose now confirmed) sin was that he did not get out of the way quickly enough at an Occupy Oakland rally and march two months ago in Oakland, Calif, when a charging line of Oakland Police Department officers in riot gear ran at him.  That the arresting officer had quite clearly beaten Joe with his baton (the officer who hit him looked Joe and the jury in the face and perjured himself—I know his testimony to be a lie, since I saw the bruises myself the night I picked Joe up from jail) seemed to sway the jury from convicting Joe of a second charge: obstructing a law enforcement officer in the performance of his duties.  That charge, it turns out, cannot be considered proved if the arresting officer uses excessive force. Joe himself took the stand and testified he had no intention of obstructing anyone—that he was an unarmed man in a Roman collar walking away from the police—but it made no difference as to the first charge, and Joe was found guilty.  Of that, at least.

Joe should have been found innocent of all charges—if he was guilty, then so am I, and a number of other peers who have participated in actions with Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland over the past year, in the name of solidarity with the protests and civil disobedience; and I could name a dozen of my classmates who participated to one degree or another—but he was also unlucky.  On the day of his arrest, he donned his clerical shirt, climbed on his bike, and rode from Holy Hill down to Oakland to show his solidarity with the 99 percent—those whom, in another tradition, are called the anawim.  He happened to run into an aggressive and violent officer on a violent day, and as a result, the unjustified attack on his person was followed by three days in the Alameda County Jail.  He was released to us “on his own recognizance,” a process that took the judge two minutes to approve and the sheriffs at the jail seven hours to carry out.  That experience has been followed by two months of seemingly endless court appearances, or at least ten; one thing I will tell you is that I now know four of the bailiffs by name, and I am not even the one who was arrested.

Joe has had no criminal record; Joe was, according even to the arresting officer, completely compliant with the authorities at and after his arrest.  But now he’s guilty, and next week we’ll go back for sentencing.

The whole experience left me angry but educated in new ways about the justice system.  Below are some of my own reflections from that experience.  I speak only for myself, not for this magazine nor for Joe nor for the Society of Jesus.

Read the rest here.

The SF Weekly reports:

The San Francisco Archdiocese made it very clear they are there to serve God, not the 99 percent. The religious leaders yesterday afternoon ordered police to start rounding up occupiers and arresting them a day after protesters descended on the church’s vacant building on Turk Street, pledging to turn the site into a permanent space for the homeless.

Initially, SF Catholics had instructed police to hold off on messing with occupiers, which gave protesters plenty of time to start prepping for a fight; when police did raid the building, they found the gates had been heavily barricaded along with piles of bricks, chairs, and buckets of paint on the rooftop. “There was concern that these items were going to be used as weapons against police officers,” said Sgt. Michael Andraychak.

When police entered the building, occupiers retreated into rooms, many that had also been barricaded from the inside. Others locked themselves on the second floor, and one person jumped from the roof and was arrested by police upon his landing.

On Sunday, Occupiers had stormed the building, which the church said was still being used as a music facility for the nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral High School. Occupiers began making themselves at home, handing out flyers, announcing the “grand opening” of the building as the “San Francisco Commune” while activists organized the space for homeless folks in need of shelter.

We’re mentioned at the very end:

But let’s not jump to any conclusions about Catholics. In fact, there is an “Occupy Catholics” movement forming out there, which is working to seek justice for the 99 percent — in God’s eyes, of course.

We are poised for a blessed and Occupied Holy Week!

This Good Friday at 1 p.m., after taking part in the Pax Christi Way of the Cross procession across New York City, Occupy Catholics will be joining forces with the organization Catholics United to take a stand for the poor among us at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Catholic Congressman Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget proposal doesn’t do it, and Cardinal Dolan won’t do it either. As Catholics, at one of our country’s most visible places of worship, we will prayerfully speak from the social justice tradition of our faith. In a particular way, remembering Christ’s suffering and death at the hands of Jerusalem’s 1 percent, we know that what we do for those in need we do for our God. We will also deliver a petition asking Cardinal Dolan to use his influence as shepherd of the American church to oppose Ryan’s proposal.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to take part in Occupy Catholics, this is it! Here are some things you can do:

Spread the word about Friday’s action at St. Patrick’s and encourage those you know to come. It’s at 1 p.m., so Midtown workers can come on their lunch breaks! Please join and invite your Facebook friends to this event:

• Before the action, attend the Pax Christi procession with us and help us spread the word among progressive Catholics about what we’re planning to do. Please join and invite your Facebook friends to this event:

• Help us prepare for the action by coming to our planning meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the 60 Wall St. atrium:

We are the 99%, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice.