Deadline Passes For Occupy Philly To Dismantle

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A deadline set by the city for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the site where it has camped for some two months passed without scuffles or arrests as police watched nearly 50 demonstrators lock arms and sit at the entrance of Dilworth Plaza.

The scene outside City Hall was far different from encampments in other cities where pepper spray, tear gas and police action resulted in the removal of long-situated demonstrators since the movement against economic disparity and greed began with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan two months ago.

Occupy Philadelphia has managed to avoid aggressive confrontations so far, and on Sunday night there was hope the City of Brotherly Love would continue to be largely violence-free.

“Right now, we have a peaceful demonstration,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, nearly 45 minutes after the 5 p.m. deadline.

Along the steps leading into the plaza, nearly 50 people sat in lines, their arms linked, refusing to leave. A police presence was heavier than usual but no orders to leave had been issued.

The mood was upbeat in the hours before the evening deadline, with groups playing music and singing hymns. A few dozen tents remained scattered on the plaza, along with trash, piles of dirty blankets and numerous signs reading, “You can’t evict an idea.”

“We can definitely claim a victory,” said Mike Yaroschuk, who was in the process of dismantling his tent. “We’ve opened a lot of minds, hearts and eyes.”

Yaroschuk said he was leaving the plaza not because of the city-issued deadline but because of a request by unions whose workers will be involved in the long-planned construction project there in the coming weeks. He said Occupy’s efforts to draw attention to economic inequality and corporate influence on government were more important than its physical location.

“This place is not a key battle for me … This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.

Elsewhere on the East Coast, eight people were arrested in Maine after protesters in the Occupy Augusta encampment in Capitol Park took down their tents and packed their camping gear after being told to get a permit or move their shelters.

Protesters pitched tents Oct. 15 as part of the national movement but said Sunday they shouldn’t have to get a permit to exercise their right to assemble. Occupy leaders said a large teepee loaned by the Penobscot Indians and a big all-weather tent would stay up.

The Augusta arrests came when police say people jumped a waist-high, wooden fence on the governor’s mansion lawn and some climbed a portico to the building and unfurled an Occupy banner. As many as 50 protesters, some holding signs and beating a drum, gathered near the Blaine House gates.

In Los Angeles, another deadline was getting closer, too, for hundreds of demonstrators to abandon their weeks-old Occupy Los Angeles protest.

Although city officials have told protesters they must leave and take their nearly 500 tents with them by 12:01 a.m. Monday, just a handful were seen packing up Sunday.

Instead, some passed out fliers containing the city seal and the words: “By order of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, this notice terminates your tenancy and requires you to attend the Occupy L.A. Eviction Block Party,” which the fliers’ said was scheduled for 12:01 a.m.

Others attended teach-ins on resistance tactics, including how to stay safe should police begin firing rubber bullets or breaking out tear gas canisters and pepper spray.

Back in Philadelphia, Steve Venus was fortifying the area around his tent with abandoned wood pallets left over from those who had already packed up. He said the $50 million construction project, including a planned ice skating rink, was not a good enough reason for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the plaza.

Venus, 22, said that by enforcing the deadline, the city was essentially telling Occupy supporters “your issues are not important. The only issue that’s important is the ice skating rink.”

On Friday, Mayor Michael Nutter expressed support for the movement’s ideals but said protesters must make room for the long-planned project, which they were told of when they set up camp Oct. 6.

Nutter was out of town Sunday, but his spokesman reiterated that “people are under orders to move.”

“We’re monitoring the situation and we expect people to leave immediately,” spokesman Mark McDonald said.

Members of the governing body of Occupy Philadelphia, the general assembly, previously approved a move to a plaza across the street after union officials stressed the hundreds of jobs being created by the Dilworth reconstruction. But that vote mistakenly assumed protesters would be able to pitch tents there.

Graffiti, lack of sanitation and fire hazards, including smoking in tents, were among the city’s chief concerns at Dilworth, which had about 350 tents at the height of the movement. The encampment also attracted significant numbers of homeless, although the plaza had long been frequented by that population even before the camp was established.

The city did issue a permit to an Occupy Philadelphia faction called Reasonable Solutions that planned to continue demonstrating across the street beginning Monday. However, activities are limited to between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and no overnight camping is allowed.

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

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  • Shaneeka Farooq Shabazzz Martinez El-Amin Jones

    What are they doing fo me and my 7 kids with 8 Daddy’s (please, don’t ask) I need a new iPhone…give me, give me

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  • acoustic622

    The problem I have with Occupy Philadelphia is it is another White movement, just like the Tea Party. It is estimated that 40 percent of Philadelphia residents are African-American, but what I see down at City Hall are a great deal of white faces; two black faces out of maybe 150 to 200 people are not a representative of the 99 percent in Philadelphia — The unemployment rate for African-Americans in this country is much higher (almost double) that of the white unemployment rate — then there is the substandard public school education system in this city — What is Occupy Philadelphia doing for black children without enough food to eat? or Black families living in substandard housing? — The theory that when you help get all the white people back to work, and all the white people get decent jobs with high pay and benefits, that black people will benefit from that — How? The money and police resources being wasted on Occupy Philadelphia would be better utilized for the families living below the poverty level in Philadelphia – If all this time energy, youthful enthusiasm, and money being used to Occupy Dilworth Plaza had been utilized in actually helping the poor, then much greater things would have been accomplished these past number of weeks; unfortunately the Occupy Philadelphia just make Mayor Nutter and the Philly Police Department look like the bad guys, when the wealthiest one percent of the city’s population sit high above in their million dollar condos just laughing at it all — What has Occupy Philadelphia really done to make any difference whatsoever? The white Tea Party has Washington D.C. in gridlock, and the white Occupy movement is trying to do the same thing to local governments — What is really the point? I do not understand how this is really helping those living below the poverty level.

    • getreal

      Dude, I can’t even count the ‘inaccuracies’ in your statement. The white tea party had DC in gridlock??? Really? You ask what is Occupy Philly doing for black families? What are THEY doing for themselves?
      “The theory is when you help get all the white people back to work…black people will benefit”. WHAT??? Who’s theory is that? And how exactly is sleeping in a park helping to get white people back to work?
      The problem isn’t as you say, that it’s another white movement, the problem is attitudes like yours…”what are they doing for us?”
      If things are so much worse for black people, why then are only white people there? And your solution is not that more black people should be out there, but that the white people who are there should be doing more for the black people??? Wow. Wow.
      I do agree with 1 point, that there is no reason for these idiots to be there. It’s accomplished nothing, even though they sit there smiling like they’ve made a difference in any way.
      Rich guilty kids who have nothing better to do. They are useful idiots for the socialists who want revolution, and they are too dumb to even know it.

      • acoustic622

        I have worked for minimum wage in a number of big box stores — a retail chain can have me working more than 40 hours a week without giving me any health benefits by labeling me a ‘Seasonal Employee’ — One store kept me just under 40 hours a week so I would not be labeled a ‘Full-Time’ employee; even though I was ready and willing to work 8 hours a day, five days a week —
        “What are they doing for us?” What about common courtesy? When customers come into the story, yell, curse, and scream at me — I am a minimum wage employee stocking shelves and trying to point customers in the right direction; I have no control on stock availability, price, or selection; One customer even physically assaulted me, over what? I do not even know — I understand the unhappiness, the customer was dissatisfied with the big box retail store, but to assault a minimum wage employee?
        “What are they doing for us?” My rent gets paid every month, but the Landlord chose to turn off the heat and hot water in January because one of my neighbors did not pay their rent on time — Affordable decent housing; is that too much for people who are working full time jobs? It is sad when my Landlord is ripped off by one of his tenants, but should I be victimized because someone did it to my Landlord? Someone steals from you, so you feel it is only right to steal from me? That is not Black or White, it is criminal. Yet how is it not seen as problematic when a white landlord turns off heat and hot water to the entire building just because one person did not pay the rent? — I do not think he would have done that if it were a building full of rich, white people — just saying.
        “Rich guilty kids who have nothing better to do.” I think you are making my point for me. Why would the African-American community here in the city want to sleep in tents on the ground to support a movement that has no specific goals for city residents (unless you have actually experienced homelessness, you have no idea; homelessness is much like camping, only with a great deal of fear and uncertainty; campers get to go home to their nice warm beds at some point).. Philadelphians who are trying to make changes within their community are actively doing productive things, and not taking part in some weeks long sit-in at City Hall.
        Finally, I know some people think it is easy being poor and unemployed, like some sort of long vacation; where every day is a holiday, and every night is a Saturday night, but that is not what being poor is really about — and there is nothing inaccurate about that statement.

  • grumpy

    Gee, if it bothers you brave keyboard commandos that much, why don’t you go down there and try moving them out yourselves?

    • acoustic622

      I am hoping that the city government does not move then off Dilworth Plaza — What will all the union workers do if the remodeling project is postponed indefinitely? All those high paying union jobs lost to the Occupy Philadelphia movement — My only hope is that the Occupy Movement is still strong through next November, and gives motivation to vote President Obama out of office next year (let him live a long happy life back in Chicago with his family, and stays out of Washington politics; just like he has been doing all year) — We need a President who will actually try and put pressure on congress, and not just wave a finger and whine that congress is the problem — during the 2008 election Obama was very cheesy with his Audacity of Hope, and now he has nothing but Whine with that Cheese — so let the Obamaville Occupy Dilworth Plaza until the next November Presidential election, and then we can sweep them all out of office, and off the front steps of city hall.

  • Gina

    The best outcome here would be for the police to not move in until 9am when the Mayor and Council members walk over to meet and greet those from the Occupy group that have moved. The media attention directed at those committed to the mission while shinning no light on those in the group replacing the united mission with their own self interest of gaining media coverage.

  • RC

    Let’s hope the cops do what the Phillies didn’t: Come out swinging!

  • occupyoccupation
  • Zzbar

    Yes, go home and take a shower and go job hunting. There are a lot of part time jobs out there for the Holiday Season. Another idea, go to North Dakota, no job seekers will be turned away because of the new found oil.

  • TJ

    This is now criminal trespassing….Philly PD and the Mayor need to man up and deal with these people

    • Mother Nature

      Send in the Police dogs!

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