Faith groups lay out Thanksgiving feast for ‘Occupy’ protesters
WASHINGTON — Protesters from Washington’s two Occupy Wall Street offshoots flocked Wednesday to a church where Abraham Lincoln once worshipped for a Thanksgiving buffet and some robust words of support.
The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church threw open its basement and laid out a spread of turkey, mashed potatoes, corn and pumpkin pie, plus kosher and vegan options, for the afternoon, with enough on hand to feed 500.
Organizing the feast was Occupy Faith DC, an inter-faith coalition set up a month ago to give food, equipment and spiritual support to Occupy DC in McPherson Square and Occupy Washington DC in Freedom Plaza.
“We understand and we are in total solidarity with you,” James Lee of Occupy Faith DC and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, a faith-based social justice movement, told the diners.
“There’s a lot of love for the Occupy movement,” he added. “There are millions of people who want you to succeed, so don’t stop… The goal is to have hundreds of thousands in the streets by springtime.”
Thanksgiving, which falls on the last Thursday of every November, is a major holiday in the United States, dating back to the 17th century with Pilgrim settlers gathered in gratitude for a good harvest.
In lieu of saying grace, Thursday’s meal began with a hare krishna chant, while “singing rabbi” David Shneyer played Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and the folk tune “We Will Not Be Moved” on an acoustic guitar.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street was to return to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan — from which it was forcibly evicted last week — for Thanksgiving meal Thursday to which “all members of our global community” were invited.
“So many people have given up so much to come and be a part of the movement because there is really that much dire need for community,” said Megan Hayes, a chef who helps run the protesters’ kitchen, said in a statement.
More than 3,000 individually wrapped plates were to be distributed in accordance with public health regulations, and an Egyptian family that runs a Texas barbecue in New York will be donating 2,000 meals.
Unlike its counterparts in New York and elsewhere, the two Washington occupations — located in public spaces belonging to the National Park Service — has so far been tolerated by local authorities, with few serious incidents.