The relationship between Occupy Philly and the city reached its breaking point this weekend after the movement decided Friday to remain at Dilworth Plaza and city officials yesterday began calling into question the motives and safety of the encampment.
Managing Director Rich Negrin said that the group’s decision to stay is “incredibly disappointing and, we think, indicative of something of a betrayal of their original beliefs and cause,” adding that a “more radical element might be gaining control.”
Many long-term members, however, claim some Occupiers are eager to move to accommodate a $50 million Dilworth Plaza renovation. But feeding the communication breakdown, Mayor Michael Nutter said yesterday that Occupy Philly has stopped talking with city officials.
“It’s impossible to cooperate with someone who is not cooperating with you,” Nutter said. And as far as Occupy’s not-yet-crafted list of demands, Nutter said, “There are no negotiations because there is no communication.”
Occupy Philly voted against regular meetings with city officials and did not respond to multiple
e-mails or letters sent by the city in the past week and a half, Negrin said.
The city has no plans to remove the Occupiers by force, Negrin said — “We’re Philadelphia. We’re not Oakland.” — but he is worried about the possibility of violence.
Many at the camp yesterday shared the administration’s concern. Nutter said more officers are patrolling the site.
Member David Brouse says he was assaulted at the camp last week while videotaping a fight between two occupants. “We’re feeding the homeless and military veterans, but not giving them their medicines,” he said. “Thefts are rampant – everybody pretty much has stuff stolen.”
Police: Rape in tent
Bolstering Mayor Nutter and some Occupiers’ claims that the camp has become less safe, police said a woman was sexually assaulted Saturday night.
A 23-year-old woman was allegedly dragged into a tent by a 50-year-old man around 7:55 p.m. and assaulted, police said, though no charges have been filed yet.
Reverend Jesse Jackson made an unannounced stop at the Occupy Philly camp yesterday evening – noting he was “very impressed with the order of it” – and offered words of encouragement for protesters.
“Be courageous, have faith, have hope and never surrender,” said Jackson, who was in town for Joe Frazier’s funeral. “You must stand tall.”
Jackson spoke as a crush of media and supporters encircled him, at times yelling, “We love, you,
Reverend!” and suggesting he run for president.
Read more about divisions in the camp, Occupiers’ thoughts on the vote and the ultimate question: what will happen?