Local/State

Division arises in Occupy Philly camp

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
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One group of Occupy Philly protesters spent the day preparing for confrontation, another faction was meeting with city officials trying to defuse the situation and work on relocating the encampment.

Randy Quinn of Rasonable Solutions is one of those people looking for another place to protest.

"Reasonable Solutions is advocating for relocation to another more suitable location. We are not sure exactly at this point what the location is," Quinn said.

Some want to go, others want to stay.

A training group was preparing for a police confrontation they believe is coming within the next 72 hours.

All this is happening against a backdrop of growing division among the occupiers.

The protesters have had hundreds of tents camped outside Philadelphia's City Hall for more than a month. Organizers say the protest is meant as a show of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York and to make a statement about corporate greed and other issues.

The camp is holding up a $50 million renovation of Dilworth Plaza and the city is offering to relocate the protestors.

The city also says the occupiers are fouling their own nest.

Overnight someone spray painted graffiti in the subway concourse and it appeared that a number of people left a trail of human waste.

"It's bad. You can occupy, but it's enough's enough. Some of these people [are here] just to hang out," commuter Paul Hairston said.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said it is just another indication of how unsanitary the encampment has become.

"It's a health issue, a serious health issue," Ramsey said. "It's one that can't be overlooked."

Violence has also become an issue.

The encampment has attracted a large population of the homeless. Some have mental health issues.

Police say a homeless man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a homeless woman at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment.

Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman, says the 47-year-old man was arrested around 12:35 a.m. Tuesday after slapping and punching the woman. He is charged with simple assault.

Both the man and the woman told police they were affiliated with the protest. A member of Occupy Philadelphia said he could not immediately verify whether that was the case.

While a growing faction of the so-called radical caucus is digging in its heels, others are packing it in and leaving.

At least two occupiers have moved their tent to Independence Mall.

Many of the homeless are also starting to move on saying they don't want any part of a confrontation with the police.

"There's a whole bunch of us that if we're asked to leave, we'll leave and figure a way to come back or go somewhere in Philly," occupier Annemarie Kirby said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were no overt signs that the police might be planning to forcibly evict the occupiers. But, it's unlikely they'll signal their intentions in advance.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
pennsylvania, philadelphia, center city, protest, mayor michael nutter, occupy movement, local/state
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