Plans to increase police protection
ABOVE PHOTO: Protesters from Occupy Philly participate in a ‘die in’ demonstration outside a PNC Bank headquarters in Philadelphia on Monday Nov. 7, 2011. The demonstration was held to draw attention to PNC Bank’s business practices.
(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
At a noon news conference, Mayor Michael A. Nutter raised a series of public health and public safety concerns regarding the Occupy Philly site on Dilworth Plaza.
Because of changes within the Occupy Philly contingent since its arrival in early October and a refusal to communicate regularly with the city, and safety issues including thefts, assaults and a sexual assault that is currently being investigated, the City is stepping up police patrols among the City Hall encampment, Nutter said.
“Occupy Philly has changed. We’re seeing serious health and safety issues playing out on almost a daily basis.
Occupy Philly is fractured with internal disagreement and disputes. The people of Occupy Philly have also changed and their intentions have changed … and all of this is not good for Philadelphia. When I met with representatives of Occupy Philly on Wednesday Oct. 5 in my office, I made it clear to them that the City would in fact protect their free speech rights and that we wanted to cooperate with them. But I also said that the life of the City must go on: it is our daily business that must be conducted and not be impeded,” Nutter said.
On Oct. 11, the City sent a letter to Occupy Philly representatives that outlined the city’s concerns on a variety of issues including a lack of emergency fire lanes near the encampment and City Hall, problems with litter, unsanitary conditions, graffiti, and other concerns. The City and Occupy Philly met on Oct. 30 and city officials had asked for weekly meetings to talk about issues, concerns and possible relocation sites.
However, the Occupy Philly contingent hasn’t communicated with the city since the Oct. 30 meeting and has violated a variety of city ordinances. It has also decided to refuse to leave Dilworth Plaza, according to City officials.
“Occupy Philly is now purposely standing in the way of a nearly 1,000 jobs for Philadelphians at a time of high unemployment. They are blocking Philadelphians from taking care of their families,” Nutter said. “We’ve seen the rise of new groups as a part of this movement like the Radical Caucus, which is bent on civil disobedience and disrupting city operations. Many of the people that we talked to in the beginning of this event and activity are now gone. They are no longer on the site. They are no longer on the scene. And Occupy Philly has refused to engage in active, regular discussions with us.”
“This change in behavior is no accident, ” Nutter continued. “It is a direct result of the fact that this movement has changed and the people have changed. Occupy Philly is not acting in good faith, and it’s now abundantly clear that on many levels this group is violating a range of city ordinances and the terms of their permit. Of necessity, we are now at a critical point where we must reevaluate out entire relationship with this very changed group.”