02-07-2013, 06:32 PM
Our top story this evening: Members of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church staged a massive protest against the proposed destruction of their church and the surrounding neighborhood by SilverStar Enterprises, Inc. Many have chained themselves to the iron fence surrounding the seventy-five year old house of worship in defiance to the eviction order served to them last week. SilverStar is claiming the property under the eminent domain laws in the state of Nevada. Father Stefan Mykolos had this to say:
Fr. Stefan Mykolos: "Let me tell you that God Himself has eminent domain over this church, and no one else! If SilverStar persists in this grandiose project, then disaster will fall upon them for desecrating holy ground!"
One protester in particular is Dimitra Sarantakos, the mother of famous illusionist, Criss Angel, and who spearheaded the movement. She chained herself to a large tree in the middle of the churchyard and refused to leave, even when her famous son pleaded with her to come back.
CA:"Look, Ma, this whole chaining yourself to a tree is just gonna get you arrested!"
DS:"Then I'll go to jail then! I am not leaving until they call off the demolition!"
In spite of all his efforts, Criss finally gave up.
CA:"She ain't gonna move."
When asked about the reason she got involved, she had this to say:
Dimitra Sarantakos: "This church has become a second spritual home for me ever since I've been coming here to Las Vegas. I love the people here, and I won't stand by and watch this beautiful building be torn down."
Night fell, and with it came bone-numbing cold. The Holy Trinity protesters huddled together for warmth, stubbornly refusing to leave their posts, save for bathroom breaks inside the church. Father Stefan bought cups of hot tea to ward off the chill, along with a few blankets for the more vulnerable members of his flock chained to the fence and the tree in the yard. The picketers were forced into retreat, too hoarse to continue chanting and too footsore to go on marching. Dimitra set aside her needlework, her fingers too numb to sew anymore. The cup of tea Father Stefan had bought her was beginning to wear off inside her system.
"I wish I had bought a jacket or something," she said to herself. "It's too cold out here."
She blew on her fingers to warm them. "Dear Lord," she prayed, "please help me get warm again."
Maybe Christopher was right, she thought. Maybe this was a bad idea. If she had been twenty or thirty years younger she could have tolerated it a bit longer, but at seventy-three she was too vulnerable to whatever Nature chose to offer in terms of weather. She cast a glance at the dimly lit church beside her, the church she had come to love in the few short years she had been coming to Las Vegas. "I can't give up, Lord, I just can't," she sniffled. "But I am so cold, and so hungry. Dear Lord, send help to me. To all of us."
She was startled out of her misery by the blaring of car horns and the glare of headlights. Dimitra was astonished to see a veritable convoy of SUVs, coupes, minivans, and family cars making a beeline into the parking lot. The convoy parked haphazardly wherever they could find space. Soon people from all walks of life were spilling out of the vehicles, whooping and hollering like partygoers on New Year's Eve.
"Hey, Mama D!"
"Hi, Dimitra! We're here to help!"
"Hi, Mama Angel! We love you!"
Dimitra watched the rushing river of humanity coming straight for her. Who were these people? she wondered in her bewilderment. "My goodness!" she exclaimed. "What's all this!"
"We saw the news on TV about the protest you started," a stocky bearded man explained, "and we, the Loyals, have come to your aid!" He turned to the crowd. "Come on, everybody! Start unpacking!" he shouted.
Tents, canvas chairs, Coleman ice chests, blankets, and sleeping bags were all pulled out of trunks and back seats and set up in every available square foot of yard space. One tent was pitched around the tree where Dimitra sat, and no sooner was the last spike driven into the gorund than it was filled with die-hard Loyals. A small battery-powered heater was carefully set in the middle of the tent inside a metal basin to prevent fire.
"You hungry?" a slim young Loyal girl with a CA tattoo on her neck asked Dimitra. "We got some sandwiches."
"That would be nice, thank you," said Dimitra gratefully. Indeed it was, for all Dimitra had since the protest started was Father Stefan's tea, and she was starved. Cellophane-wrapped sandwiches were tossed around to everyone inside the tent like softballs. The tattooed girl, who introduced herself as Kris Lee, handed Dimitra a chicken-salad sandwich and a bottle of Dasani. Dimitra thanked her politely and unwrapped her sandwich.
"I had prayed for a miracle," she said to herself, "and the Lord answered a thousand times over."
Dimitra nibbled on her sandwich and drank her water along with the tentful of Loyals. She wondered if Christopher had put them up to this. But no, that was not possible. They had acted on their own, banding together to support her cause. Heaven bless them all, she thought.
"So, Dimitra," Kris Lee tried to speak through the bread and chicken salad in her mouth.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, dear," Dimitra admonished her instinctively.
"Oh, sorry." Kris Lee swallowed hard and started over again. "Anyway, how long do you plan on staying chained up here?"
"Until they decide not to tear down the church," Dimitra replied. "You know that."
"Are those Criss's chains?" a boy sitting beside her asked.
"Of course they are," Dimitra answered. "We got them from his warehouse."
"Did he get mad about you taking his stuff?" the boy asked.
"He was more concerned about me than about his chains."
"We saw Criss on the news," Kris Lee said. "He seemed pretty upset over you being here."
"He worries about me. But not as much as I worry about him, of course."
"Well, that's 'cause he loves you so much." Kris Lee leaned her head on Dimitra's knee.
Dimitra patted Kris Lee's hair. "I love him too, dear."
"What's Criss doing to help?" another Loyal from somewhere in the back called out.
"He's contacted some law firm to see if we can file for an injunction to stop the demolition. He's been very supportive about all this. He knows how much this church means to me and everyone who lives here. No one is going to destroy it for any reason."
"God," a middleaged woman sitting by a vinyl wall of the tent growled. "It's Poletown all over again!"
The bearded man who had first greeted Dimitra looked at her. "Poletown?"
"I don't know if you remember this," the woman began, "but twenty five years ago an entire community in Hamtramck, Michigan was leveled for a GM- Cadillac plant. Over a thousand homes and a dozen churches, including the oldest Catholic church in the area--I forget the name, but anyway, they fought like hell to save it, but the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of GM. A whole neighborhood, gone, just like that. Then the plant went belly-up a few years later. They used the same tactics for what they're using now: eminent domain laws and all that."
"So they can tear down the church to build a hotel?" Kris Lee asked fearfully.
"Not any more," the woman replied. "The courts overruled eminent domain, and they can't take over private property like that again. At least, not in Michigan. I don't know how it works here in Nevada."
"Why'd they call it Poletown?" the boy next to Dimitra asked.
"Hamtramck has one of the largest populations of Polish Americans in the country," the woman answered, "so everyone called it Poletown. Detroit's got Corktown for the Irish, Greektown--"
"Greektown!" Kris Lee exclaimed. "I'd like to see that!"
"Anyway," said the middleaged woman, "the courts won't let them tear down the church here. Not after what happened in Poletown."
"I hope you're right, lady," Kris Lee said. "We all hope you're right."