Dozens Of ‘Occupy Philly’ Protesters Arrested Following March From City Hall To 30th Street Bridge

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Occupy Philadelphia protesters have decided to consider moving their City Hall encampment to a different site after hearing from union leaders concerned about the tent city standing in the way of a $50 million renovation project that will create hundreds of jobs.

On Wednesday, the city ordered the protesters to leave the site immediately so that construction could begin at Dilworth Plaza, where hundreds of tents have been set up since the beginning of October. A day later, the group said its members would vote during a “general assembly” Thursday night on an “emergency proposal” to move the approximately 350 tents and participants to a different location. (see related story)

The vote was scheduled to be held after a march decrying income inequality resulted in the peaceful arrests of about two dozen Occupy Philly members for blocking the Market Street bridge downtown.

The city wants the protesters to move their encampment, and has suggested the option of another municipal plaza across the street. Last week, however, the group voted that it would stay at the site.

Now, the group said it will reevaluate that stance after hearing from union leaders, who have expressed support for the movement but note that the tents are standing in the way of nearly 1,000 jobs.

In a statement released by their legal collective, protesters said the decision to reevaluate the vote was made “in solidarity with union workers, as well as to ease some divisions in the group and focus strategically against corporate power.”

Jody Dodd, a member of Occupy Philadelphia’s legal collective, said she’s gotten a sense that support is growing for the idea to move, especially after members heard the concerns of union leaders.

“Labor has been with us from the beginning,” Dodd said. “The labor movement’s concerns are our concerns.”

The demonstration overall is aimed at condemning the influence of big corporations on government, protesting economic disparity and showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

Pat Gillespie, business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, said he believes in the group’s core values. But he also said he’s told protesters about the importance of letting construction begin now that a contractor has been selected. The city has said it hopes the project can start later this month.

Gillespie, who said some union members’ children are participating in the protest, has spoken with Occupy Philadelphia representatives several times over the past few days.

“I asked them to understand the need for our employment opportunities, and that resonated in a positive way,” he said. “We could be working on that site Monday morning.”

Philadelphia Managing Director Richard Negrin said the city still was not setting a hard date that protesters must be out of Dilworth Plaza, but he said they would have to be gone by the start of construction.

“When that day arrives, those folks will no longer have a legal right to be on Dilworth Plaza,” Negrin said.

Protesters would need to submit a permit application, specifying the date and location of where they want to protest, Negrin said. The city has suggested a plaza at the Municipal Services Building across the street from City Hall, but Negrin said officials would not dictate a specific location.

“We are more than happy to and willing to discuss other locations if they make sense,” Negrin said.

When protesters voted earlier this month not to move, Dodd said, there were many unanswered questions about the alternative site and the status of the impending construction project at the current location. But the situation is different now, she said, especially since a contractor was chosen earlier this week.

Occupy Philadelphia led a march and rally through downtown on Thursday evening as part of a nationwide “National Day of Action.” Earlier in the day, several members interrupted a session of Philadelphia City Council, expressing concern over issues including the city’s new youth curfew law.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • Anon

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! First, wether you agree with this Occupy movement or not, its a GLOBAL movement, not one just in the US or in Philly. Second, this is a country started by PROTESTERS. People who disented, questioned authority, and wanted change founded this country. The US has seen many positive changes from “those stinky people”. Remember the civil rights era? Remember the Veitnam protests? For the record, they were protesting to bring the troops home, not against the troops. What do occupiers want; Corp money/coruption out of politics. We have a flawed government that needs a major fixing. We need to get Wall Street bankers out of our gov’t. We need real jobs in the USA again. No more NAFTA!! And the top percent used to pay much more in taxes and our GDP was much stronger as well. You really need to wake up, how dare we as a country want to deny occupiers their 1st amnd right. They have the right to free speech and to peacefully assemble. I am a proud gun owner and I can tell you that if you want to take one of my .45s you’ll be prying it from my cold dead hands. As for “those stinky people”, they value the 1 amd rights the way us gun owners value the 2nd amnd and with out people like me and people like them this country would never have formed. If your truely patriotic thank a disenter and a gun owner. I am both. I am a MARINE, 3 tours in Iraq. I support the rights of the occupiers and since I have been home for 5 months and still have found zero empolyment I have found an occupation.
    Semper Fi,

  • Also a Hater

    Reminds me of Rebublican National Convention protestors -bunch of privledged idiots who don’t know what it is to have to work for a living make life even MORE difficult for those who do. Its supposed to be the elite 1% you’re after isn’t it – not the poor shleps who just want to go home to thier families after putting in a long day at work. Bunch of jerks.

  • Another Hater

    Alienate the very 99% you propose to represent by preventing working parents/single moms from being able to get home to the young children waiting for them in daycare centers. The children who count on them won’t be able to tonight thanks to Occupy Idiots

  • Hater

    Occupy Philadelphia is getting way too much press. Maybe if you ignore them, they will go away.

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