Occupy Philly protesters clash with city officials
CENTER CITY - November 14, 2011 (WPVI) -- So far, things have been relatively peaceful at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment but, the fragile peace is starting to unravel.
The mayor says the nature of the encampment has changed for the worse and the city is running out of patience.
Monday afternoon, several protesters moved from City Hall, blocking the road near 11th and Market streets.
"The people of Occupy Philly have also changed, their intentions have changed, and all of this is not good," said Mayor Michael Nutter.
The city says the Occupy camp has been taken over by what it calls the "radical caucus", people determined to force a violent confrontation.
The occupiers say it's the city that's looking for a showdown.
"We believe that the cynical use of sexual violence and health concerns, are opportunistic ways for the mayor to justify and attack our movement," said one protester during an afternoon press conference.
Officials have been hoping to avoid violent confrontations like those in Oakland, California and other locations around the country in recent weeks.
Riot-clad police cleared out Oakland's encampment, just before dawn Monday morning, with little resistance. It was much calmer than the chaos on Oct. 25 when police used tear gas to clear the camp.
On Sunday, police drove hundreds of people out of the Portland, Oregon encampment, arresting 50 demonstrators.
Back to Philadelphia, Friday night, the occupiers took a vote vowing to stay put.
The city wants them to move across the street to the Municipal Services building so the $50 million renovation project of Dilworth Plaza can begin.
With the renovation project, city officials claim 1,000 construction jobs are at stake.
However protesters say they haven't gotten the information they requested from the city to make an informed decision about moving.
"The general assembly will make the decision that they'll make but they need to make fully informed decisions. We weren't able to make the decision because we didn't have the information," said Jody Dodd.
City managing Director Richard Negrin says the occupiers have had all the information they need for the past month, and that they're just being silly.
The consensus among occupiers is not the same.
"They're union workers and I do support union jobs, however us moving goes against everything we believe," said Jane Blackfoot.
Some occupiers say they will go, but others say they will stay and resist, even if it robs construction workers of the right to make a living.
pennsylvania, philadelphia, center city, protest, mayor michael nutter, occupy movement, local/state
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