Ramsey: Police to meet with Occupy Philly organizers

Posted: October 05, 2011

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey today said the department plans to meet with organizers of Occupy Philly and is still planning how the police will monitor the demonstrations.

Brian Abernathy, chief of staff to city managing director Rich Negrin, said top officials are also meeting now to develop a plan for dealing with the protest. He promised to make details public later this afternoon.

City regulations require a permit for any demonstration staged on city property. It was unclear if Occupy Philly organizers have yet applied for a permit.

On Tuesday night, Occupy Philly announced it would stage a protest beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday at Philadelphia City Hall.

The decision was reached by a standing-room-only crowd at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City.

The Philadelphia group wants to echo the Occupy Wall Street protest that started Sept. 17 in Manhattan and has spread coast to coast.

The protests are coalescing around the feeling that conditions are worsening for most Americans while the financial powers at the center the financial meltdown that brought the economy to its knees three years ago have not been held accountable.

One key concern for Philadelphia police, Ramsey said, is making sure people can navigate around the demonstration to reach jobs, businesses and Septa stations.

"Their right to protest is something we recognize and respect," Ramsey said. "And we're there to help make that happen, in a sense."

At the same time, Ramsey said, police want to make sure people can get to work. Some disruption due to the crowds is inevitable, he said. The police expect that the demonstration will be more than a one-day event, he said, but anticipate that most demonstrators will be peaceful.

"As this thing evolves, we'll deal with issues as they come up," he said. "This is all still in its early stages."

Ramsey also will be talking with Nutter about the ground rules for protestors. He wasn't sure on Wednesday whether demonstrators will be allowed to camp out overnight, as protestors in New York have done.

"That's not up to me," he said.

Staff writers Allison Steele, Bob Warner and Harold Brubaker contributed to this report.

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