City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza will soon have a new team of occupiers — construction is expected to start in mid-November on a $55 million overhaul of the concrete space. But many in Occupy Philly’s tent city say they are not going anywhere anytime soon.
“The fact that they’re going to spend $55 million to renovate this when there’s so much else to spend the money on,” said Joshua Albert of the security working group. “I don’t think we’re leaving — not peacefully.”
“They want to turn it into an ice skating rink,” said activist Sean Rose, of overhaul plans that include a seasonal rink. “They didn’t pass a bill to make new libraries, but they passed a bill to make a rink.”
No formal consensus has yet been made through Occupy’s democratic process, which requires a proposal during a General Assembly meeting and two votes.
Rick Kauffman said that the city pledged to help move the occupiers as part of the permit agreement. “My take is that a lot of people are unaware that they have to move and when they do hear, they think the government is screwing them when, in fact, they’ve been planning this for years. It’s foolish to resist.”
“I don’t expect it to be too amicable between police, the local government and occupiers when they refuse to leave.”
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the construction date is not yet set in stone, but that occupiers previously agreed to leave once it begins.
“The last we heard from the group, they have pledged to work with us to figure out where they will be once the site is secured,” he said. “We’ve been very accommodating, but the city needs to continue its life and growth. Occupy Philly is certainly a part of it, and that’s why they’re working with the administration on where they will eventually be.”
Check-ins at City Hall
Occupy Philly has the second highest “check-in” among the country’s numerous Occupy locations on popular social networking website Foursquare, which allows people to track their location.
Across the country, participants in the Occupy Together movement have been using Foursquare and Occupy Wall Street has the most check-ins with nearly 4,500 as of yesterday afternoon. Philadelphia was in second with 590.
Occupy Boston follows in third with 547 check-ins, followed by Occupy LA with 300. – Yotam Dror