PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Michael Nutter was reacting cautiously on Wednesday to word that national organizers of “Occupy Wall Street” and similar protests across the country plan to gather in Philadelphia next summer.
The plans are found in a document posted online by an “Occupy Wall Street” working group, titled “The 99 Percent Declaration.” The document proposes a National General Assembly to be held in Philadelphia starting on July 4th, 2012 and running through next October.
The proposal says the Assembly would operate similarly to the original “Committees of Correspondence” — the Founding Fathers who met in Philadelphia prior to what the group refers to as “the first American Revolution.”
It was not immediately clear if such a gathering will actually take place, but city officials are aware of the proposal and Mayor Nutter says he wants to talk about it with the organizers.
“I understand national Occupy would want to be in Philadelphia — this is birthplace of freedom, liberty, and democracy for the United States of America — so I look forward to a conversation,” Nutter told KYW Newsradio. “We need to better understand what it is they want to do, where and what it’s all about. But I welcome the discussion.”
Nutter says he would like to maintain the same open dialogue with the national organizers as he has with the local group now encamped on Dilworth Plaza.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia officials are warning those at the “Occupy Philadelphia” encampment that in about one month, they’ll have to relocate (see related story).
Rich Negrin, the city’s managing director, says he’s already informed “Occupy Philadelphia” participants that a long-planned renovation of Dilworth Plaza will proceed and they’ll have to move.
“Whatever date that is, which we believe to be mid-to-late November, they’re going to have to relocate.”
Story continues below photo …
Negrin says they’re working with the protestors to agree on an alternate site, perhaps Thomas Paine Plaza outside the neighboring Municipal Services Building.
And what if they refuse to leave?
“We hope it doesn’t get there,” said Negrin. “That’s the kind of showdown that some folks would like. That’s a minority of the folks. In large part, they’ve been incredibly cooperative. (But) there are small groups who infiltrate the ranks, like the anarchists and others, who don’t care about the government, just care about chaos. Let’s hope those folks are not in the majority.”
Meantime, Negrin says the city is trying to resolve concerns about fire access and public hygiene at the current encampment.
“We’re worried about cleanliness; we’re worried about public urination. We’ve had conversations with them. They need to move the tents away from City Hall 20 feet, so we can have access.”
“Occupy Philadelphia” began assembling on Dilworth Plaza on October 6th (see related story).
Reported by City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060