Occupy Philly co-opts City Council meeting

Occupy Philly protesters co-opted a City Council meeting this afternoon.

A large group of members standing on the side of the floor interrupted City Council’s agenda by shouting out against the stricter curfew bill, which passed despite opposition three weeks ago. “We are here in response to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s invitation for a meeting,” yelled Adan Diaz as fellow protesters echoed his words. “We demand you immediately repeal this ineffective and immoral law.”

Some City Councilmembers left or scrambled to safer positions in the room and though Civil Affairs officers closed in on the protesters, they did not take action against them.

When Council tried to call the session back to order, the Occupiers called a “People’s City Council” with its own agenda. They loudly voted to repeal the curfew, pass the proposed measure banning employers to take a portion of credit card fees from employees’ tips and let the Occupy Philly camp stay at Dilworth Plaza, then marched out chanting, “The curfew is a racist law, the real criminals are City Hall.”

“We came through the proper channels to speak to the legislators and they ignored us,” Diaz later said. He also said that, though bill sponsor Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown offered to meet with dissenters after the legislation passed, her office ignored the group’s efforts to schedule the meeting.

Brown was not immediately available for comment after Council.

Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. did address Occupy’s demonstration. “On the major issue of if they should stay or leave, I think they should stay but the tents should leave,” he said. “But in particular, today, I found it strange that they focused on the curfew when we passed many aggressive issues this week, including tax reform, which they didn’t address. They haven’t even taken on the issue of Dilworth Plaza itself. Did they ask for jobs for Philadelphia workers? Did they ask if the businesses that will benefit will be in Philadelphia?”

“I’m all for protest, but if this really is about economic opportunity, they need to up their game.”

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