Week-Old ‘Occupy Philadelphia’ Movement Facing New Challenges
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Occupy Philadelphia is now a week in, but a number of hurdles are looming for the protestors.
The first challenge is the rain. Police say about 90 to 100 people remained camped outside City Hall overnight Tuesday into Wednesday despite a pelting rain that began around 4 a.m. Among them, Adam Hill from Norristown, who just arrived Tuesday night.
“We ran around helping people wrap up for the rain,” he said. “It was pretty cold and damp.”
But he still says he plans to stay “indefinitely.”
So does Douglas Massidda, who just joined the protestors from Boston on Tuesday night.
“The main message is that there’s a problem,” Massidda said. “I think enough people agree with that. What’s the solution? We don’t know exactly yet.”
The city also sent the protestors a list of public safety concerns it says must be addressed for the protest to continue. Managing Director Richard Negrin says graffiti and public urination must end and structures made of pallets have to be moved away from the wall of City Hall to minimize the risk of fire.
“I know that Occupy Philly would not want to have the righteousness of their effort marred by reports of such unlawful and unsanitary conduct,” wrote Negrin. “Please do everything in your power to prevent such acts and work with us to ensure the historic Dilworth Plaza is left ‘better than it was found’ by Occupy Philly as promised by your representatives.”
What’s also unclear is exactly where the protest will move once the long-planned reconstruction of Dilworth Plaza begins. Staring this fall, the Center City District is launching a complete makeover of the square, adding a fountain, ice skating rink and lawn. The construction will last until 2014.
“We told them this is a long planned project. It’s scheduled to start in a month or so,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Eyewitness News. “We’re in discussions as to how we deal with that from a space standpoint.”
Then, there is the cost. So far the city says the protest has led to $163,000 in added police overtime. The mayor says the city is doing the best it can.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We’ll do what we can to not only make sure it’s safe, but that it’s at the least cost to the city.”
Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3