'Occupy Philadelphia' keeps growing as move looms

Posted: October 20, 2011

In its third week, Occupy Philadelphia has increased in size with persistence that not even Wednesday's rainfall could deter.

The unofficial count was 304 tents, up from about 100 last weekend. Aside from the puddles that result from tents being improperly set up, it seemed the denizens of Dilworth Plaza were well-insulated from the elements - if you don't count trench foot, one anonymous protester quipped.

Walking around in waterlogged shoes could soon be the least of his concerns, as plans for renovating Dilworth Plaza will have him and the rest of the encampment moving next month.

Deputy Mayor Richard Negrin, the city's managing director, said city officials had been negotiating with Occupy Philadelphia representatives on possible alternative locations.

One option is Thomas Paine Plaza, outside the Municipal Services Building, which Negrin said would provide the visibility the group requested and still keep it in Center City.

He praised the protesters for being "very accommodating" during the negotiations but expressed concern about public-safety issues that have arisen, such as fire hazards and unsafe structures at the encampment.

The protesters have agreed to move out of Dilworth Plaza once the renovation begins, Negrin said. He stressed the importance of the project, which will provide significant "greening of City Hall" by adding broad lawns and trees to the concrete landscape.

Next summer, supporters from Occupy Wall Street plan to attend a National General Assembly in Philadelphia beginning July 4, according to the 99 Percent Declaration, an Occupy Wall Street working group.

"We're happy to have a conversation" with the protesters if they come, Negrin said. However, he added, "it's way too tentative and too early" to make definite plans.


Contact staff writer Quan Nguyen at 215-854-5626 or qnguyen@philly.com.

 

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