Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday the demonstrators have until 5 p.m. Sunday to leave their current City Hall encampment to make way for a $50 million Dilworth Plaza renovation project. “Last week, the city posted an Official Notice that construction was imminent,” said Nutter. “Today, I am happy to report that the City has approved a building permit for Center City District and its general contractor, clearing the way for the start of this 27-month construction process and the many jobs associated with it. And so now, I am announcing that as of 5pm today everyone now encamped on Dilworth Plaza has 48-hours to remove their possessions and themselves from the project site, which will be fenced for the construction project and public’s safety starting some time next week.”
The protesters have lived next to City Hall since early October as a statement about what they call economic injustic and in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement which began on Sept. 17. The mayor has cited what he called “serious health and safety issues” at the current Occupy Philadelphia encampment, saying conditions there are “intolerable,” and officials said they do not want to see a repeat of the 24-hour occupation at the new site.
Nutter also announced that a permit to protest at Thomas Paine Plaza was granted to Occupy Philadelphia Reasonable Solutions, an O.P. splinter group that met with city officials earlier and presented a petition with over 500 signatures supporting a move. “The people associated with Occupy Philadelphia Reasonable Solutions have been at Dilworth Plaza from Day One,” said Nutter. “They have slept on the site and they have participated in events for the last seven weeks. They are not and never were trying to stop the Dilworth Plaza construction project, a beautiful remake of the plaza built by the 99 percent for the 99 percent. In its appeal of the City’s rejection of its permit application, the group said it wanted to continue its citizen action and lobbying activity. Occupy Philadelphia Reasonable Solutions wants economic and social justice for the less fortunate in this great nation of ours. That is something that I and my Administration work for every day.”
In recent weeks, the level of conflict within Occupy Philadelphia has been highlighted by public discontent and finger-pointing. The former leaderless movement now has at least three entities, and several spokespersons.
“Nutter has patently not communicated with us,” charged Occupy Philly member Jennifer Starwood, 28. “He has communicated with Reasonable solutions under the guise of communicating with Occupy Philly, which is poor politicking. The occupy Movement is about corporate accountability, bank accountability and government responsibility to us…I don’t care about where our political voice comes from in terms of space, it’s important that our political voice be heard everywhere we are. Reasonable solutions wants to turn it into a site, or a battle, about space, and that just seems petty to me.”
According to Nutter, a one-month permit was granted to Occupy Philadelphia Reasonable Solutions that allows for people to protest at Thomas Paine Plaza, which is located across the street from City Hall, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Daily. No tents or overnight camping will be allowed. One canopy will be allowed for an information booth and shelter for computer equipment.