Members of Occupy Philly plan to gather at City Hall’s west side this morning to begin their sleep-in.
Many people already live in Dilworth Plaza, a fact that has not escaped Occupy organizers.
“The homeless are part of the 99 percent. We need them to feel like they are a part of us, because we’re a part of them,” said outreach coordinator Steve Ross. He said that Occupy has a homeless outreach committee, as well as one that will be responsible for providing food and other supplies for those that sleep there every night.
Occupy has not yet registered as a nonprofit and is thus unable to receive donations, but Ross said that he was confident that, as soon as that changed, contributions would come pouring in to finance provisions. “Salsa Labs have already donated their services to allow us to take online donations.”
“We are not going to put anyone out of their home or sleep in anyone’s spot,” Ross said. “As our budget increases, we hope to be able to provide them a modicum of shelter.”
But as of yesterday afternoon, many of Dilworth Plaza’s residents had not yet heard about the movement.
“What, the rich are coming to sleep out here?” said Dilworth Plaza resident Steve Turner. “I hope they come bearing gifts for the unfortunate.”
He said that protesters would need sleeping bags and strong stomachs, as rats are known to spring from the plaza’s concrete walls and crawl over unsuspecting snoozers.
“This is about survival of the fittest, and we’ve been out here for years,” said Frank White. “But as long as they don’t try to hurt us, who cares?”
City, protesters in odd alliance
Members of Occupy Philadelphia met with the city, including Mayor Michael Nutter, yesterday afternoon to discuss plans.
“The meeting was to work together to be peaceful, have everything go really well, be orderly and lawful,” said Managing Director Rich Negrin.
He said protesters assured him their intent was not to distract or disrupt people’s lives and that they would secure all the proper permits before erecting tents.
“We will do everything we can to maintain some normality in the city,” said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who said that police overtime will most likely be needed and costs will increase in proportion to the protest’s duration.
Who will show?
Protesters beginning their occupation of City Hall this morning are joining a national movement started three weeks ago in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District.
“I have no idea how many people are going to be there,” said organizer Sean Kitchen, adding that the numbers are hard to estimate, with the assembly Tuesday much larger than initally expected. “Based on [Tuesday], we were planning on having 600. However, we were over 1,000.”
While the Occupy Together movement takes place across the nation, many college communities also joined in with the Occupy Colleges protest. Members of an estimated 75 campuses agreed to walk out of classes yesterday in solidarity with the protests in New York City. No Philadelphia colleges reported participation. –Yotam Dror/Metro