Occupy Philly ignores eviction order, awaits police response
Dozens of Occupy Philly protesters remained in a park outside Philadelphia's City Hall on Monday after ignoring a Sunday evening deadline to leave, unsure whether police would enforce an eviction order and vowing to stand firm if they did.
Mayor Michael Nutter told protesters Friday that they had until 5 p.m. Sunday to pack up the tents and other creature comforts they have used while staying in Dilworth Plaza since the beginning of October, two weeks after Occupy Wall Street in New York prompted sympathizers to erect encampments in city centers across the nation. Occupy Wall Street was evicted in mid-November, and other Occupy camps have faced similar fates.
Occupy Philly had maintained a cordial relationship with Nutter until about 10 days ago, when the mayor said the group was blocking a $50-million renovation project planned for Dilworth Plaza by camping in the public park. At a news conference, Nutter accused the group of reneging on promises made early in the occupation to abide by city regulations and not disrupt the renovation.
He also pointed to a reported rape at the camp as evidence that crime was a growing problem for protesters as well as for other people in the area.
Relations soured further after Occupy Philly rejected the city's proposal that protesters move to nearby Thomas Paine Plaza. The offer would have allowed no overnight camping, limiting protests to the hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The number of campers has dropped by about two-thirds since last week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, with about 100 tents remaining overnight Sunday along with protesters who vowed to stay. The Philadelphia Daily News counted 87 tents.
"We are expecting people to pack up and leave," Mark McDonald, Nutter's spokesman, said, according to the Inquirer. "I'm not going to speculate about what the city might do at any time down the road from now."
Both reports quoted police as saying that there never were plans to raid the park and forcibly dismantle the camp, as occurred in New York recently. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, police were in a standoff with Occupy L.A., whose campers were resisting a deadline to move out of the park in front of City Hall by early Monday.
Since Occupy Wall Street's camp in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park was taken down, protesters in New York have tried to maintain momentum by gathering daily in the park and staging marches and protests.
Gwen Snyder, an Occupy Philly protester, said demonstrators in Philadelphia would meet later Monday to discuss their next steps, the Daily News reported. She suggested that those could include moving to a new site, taking over an abandoned building, or staging sudden "flash" occupations.
— Tina Susman in New York
Photo: An Occupy Philly protester holds a sign after a Sunday evening deadline to clear the encampment passed. Credit: Jeff Fusco / Getty Images