PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The stalemate continues between several homeless encampments and the City of Philadelphia. The protesters are vowing to stay put one day after another eviction deadline came and went with no movement.
New video overnight from the Ben Franklin Parkway shows protesters running off with metal police barricades and taking them into the homeless encampments. The encampment now has barricades around portions of it.
At the intersection of 22nd Street and the Parkway, there’s no access to vehicular traffic.
Organizers were out Thursday morning with their demands for access to permanent housing, saying the current barricades are meant to keep dwellers safe.
“These barriers are for the camp’s protection. We have seen throughout COVID, throughout the uprisings, that this city will not hesitate to tear gas and use — and use rubber bullets on people. Therefore the residents are in fear for their safety and that’s why these barriers were erected. Now, if the city is willing to sanction the camp, as we said, we will gladly take these barriers down and reopen the streets,” one dweller said.
So far, the city has not enforced the eviction deadline for the three encampments.
There was no movement from the city overnight to end the Parkway encampment. In fact, the only real movement came from people who are still there placing more barricades and pallets in front of the encampment along the Ben Franklin Parkway.
The city’s latest deadline for eviction has long come and gone. It was set for 9 a.m. Wednesday. The people living at the encampment say they’re not leaving but the mayor says they can’t stay.
Three times the city has set a deadline for the encampments to pack up and leave. Three times organizers have vowed to stay.
“Unfortunately, as many of you saw firsthand, protest camp leaders refuse to allow those conducting outreach efforts into the camps,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Kenney says the decision not to carry out the eviction was made as the city found there’s evidence protesters from the camp are stockpiling supplies that could be used as weapons to aid in their resistance, which could endanger outreach workers.
Kenney says for months the city has tried coming to an agreement with organizers, even agreeing to help support a community land trust, but demands continue to change.
“We were willing to set aside I think 60 different properties or so for them to set up a nonprofit to start fixing up houses. We committed to doing that then they changed the demands again. There’s no specific leader. Everybody has an opinion and it’s hard to accommodate people with multiple opinions that keep changing those opinions on an hourly basis,” Kenney said.
Wednesday’s deadline caused quite a stir in the neighborhood, with businesses now boarded up, residential buildings hiring extra security, and stores shuttering early.
“Hourly wage workers who only get paid if they show up, well those businesses were closed so somebody didn’t get a payday for yesterday,” said Dennis Boylan with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.
Neighbors who live along the parkway understand the need for low to no income housing in the city, but many say the encampments have become unsanitary and unsafe.
Eyewitness News cameras were rolling Wednesday as an all-out brawl broke out at the Parkway encampment.
“It’s my personal opinion that the homeless right now are being exploited by other interests,” one resident said.
But the message at the encampment has been clear from the start in June.
“We want affordable, safe, accessible, permanent housing,” a protestor said.
City leaders say many of the homeless who once lived there have been relocated.
Organizers, though, say that’s not enough.
After that missed deadline, the mayor is no longer detailing exactly how or when this eviction would take place.
Meanwhile, nearby residents who’ve been looking forward to their removal are disappointed there’s even more of an infringement in the neighborhood.
Businesses were shut down early Wednesday. The Target store nearby has now boarded up its windows and apartment buildings and condos nearby have hired security to man their doors.
And because of the street closures, people are altering how they use the city.
The Logan Square Neighborhood Association has urged residents to stay alert and limit their time walking in this area if it makes them feel safer.
Kenney says the city will continue trying to resolve the situation in an amicable way.
CBS3’s Jan Carabeo and Alecia Reid contributed to this report.