From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
No immediate plans to remove Occupy Philly, city says¹
By Miriam Hill, Allison Steele, and Sam Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers
On a day that saw New York City clear hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters from a downtown park, Philadelphia officials again said they had no immediate plans for such evictions.
“We’re looking at all our options,” Philadelphia managing director Richard Negrin said. “We are watching and learning from other cities.”
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said Philadelphia still wanted to negotiate and would not move to throw protesters out Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Chris Goldstein, nominal spokesman for the Occupy Philly protesters, said he did not expect police to move in.
“They’ve said they don’t want to be like Oakland and New York,” Goldstein said.
The city has been careful to avoid ultimatums and direct confrontations, he added.
Much more at the link.
The article continues to note that the city, as other cities across the nation have been, is concerned about normal issues such as safety, sanitation and security around the Occupy sites. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The article says that there is a balancing act allowed when the government must have solid, politically neutral reasons for restricting such a protest, reasons such as public safety and health regulations. That the First Amendment protests the right of the people to assemble “peaceably” might well be an issue given that the Occup Philadelphia protest has seen reported rapes and, just last night, an (alleged) assault by a 47-year-old homeless protester, David Anderson, who was arrested for slapping and punching a 45-year-old woman during an argument.
In New York City, police cleared out the Occupy Wall Street protesters after conditions became so bad at Zucotti Park that it had to be done. (Since Zucotti Park is private property, the First Amendment protections concerning the right to assemble would not apply.) Completely Democrat-run Oakland did the same thing. Philadelphia is considering similar action, but has been trying to talk with the Occupiers rather than having to kick them out.
The Occupy protesters are complaining primarily about a lack of a future, a dearth of good jobs for them as they (supposedly) mature. But in camping out in Dilworth Plaza, they are blocking the start of the $55 million Dilworth Plaza renovation project², which “will create 1,060 jobs and nearly $40 million in wages over the 30-month construction period.” It’s even a “green” project, as well as a hub for the city’s public transportation system, which the protesters should like.
The Inquirer quoted Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Ray Evers, of the Public Affairs unit, who said that conditiona are “deteriorating” at the Occupy site, and that for a second time vandals spray-painted a large area of the wall in the subway concourse. The last time the city had to clean up the protesters’ graffiti, it cost around $20,000 to remove all of the paint. That’s kind of difficult to square with the protesters wanting more taxpayer dollars available to make everyone’s lives better.
It’s getting difficult to see the Occupy protesters as having any real sense of what they actually want or what they think they are doing. They hate capitalism, but want good jobs in the capitalist system, and are protesting because there aren’t enough of them. They want good jobs, but are blocking a construction project which will create good jobs. What they say they want, versus what they actually do, produces a cognitive dissonance.
¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, 16 November 2011, p. B-1
² – I noted this on Monday as well.