Will Philly soon have two Occupy movements?

Reasonable Solutions, a group within Occupy Philly, was issued a permit application and encouraged to envision an alternate occupation site after a meeting with city officials yesterday in which they expressed discontent with last Friday’s decision to remain at Dilworth Plaza and presented a petition with over 500 signatures supporting a move.

According to notes released by the group via Occupy Philly Media, many felt alienated by the decision to stay at City Hall and were concerned that the timing of the vote, which did not occur until after 11:30 p.m., excluded many working families and participants who had to catch trains home. The group assured the city that the majority of the Occupy movement supported them and “apologize[d] for the leaderless phase of Occupy that allowed for the co-opting of the GA.”

So does that mean a new phase is dawning on Occupy Philly? Or will Philly soon have two occupations?

It seems that Reasonable Solutions’ discontent may make the latter a possibility: they called the general assembly voting process “broken” and said they may dissociate and “rebrand.” In a bit of finger-pointing, they also claimed that the Radical Caucus, another group within Occupy Philly that is against relocation, made them lose communication with the city in the first place. The city has said they will only issue one permit to Occupy Philly, but it is unclear if this rule would still apply if Reasonable Solutions declared themselves a separate entity.

On the other hand, this excerpt from the group’s petition suggests that unity be maintained and that those who wish to remain at City Hall consider themselves participants in a protest against renovation, rather than as residents living at Occupy Philly’s main encampment: “We
declare that what happens at Dilworth Plaza should be considered the sole
responsibility of participants in the direct action of protest against the
renovation. Direct Action and the arrested have set this precedent themselves in
previous incidences of jail solidarity at Police HQ’s & Comcast, and in
return Occupy Philly has stood in in unity with them. We feel it is only right
they uphold that same responsibility to the movement in regards to Dilworth
Plaza, therefore allowing us to obtain a new permit and relocate at the end of
the current permit.”

In a departure from what so far has been a leaderless movement, Reasonable Solutions assigned a “point person” to communicate with the city and agreed to weekly meetings with L&I and regular sanitation cleanups. In turn, the city agreed to give occupiers adequate notice of about three days before Dilworth Plaza must be cleared and to consider permit applications for alternate locations, including Thomas Paine Plaza.

Officials stressed that they hoped the group would try to avoid problems that have arisen at the current encampment by reconsidering a 24-hour-a-day occupation because of sanitation issues, the possibility of drug abuse and the challenges of coexisting with the homeless.

Reasonable Solutions will meet again with the city when the permit application (or applications) detailing plans for a new site are ready. Whether they will apply with the backing of Occupy Philly as a whole or will start a new encampment altogether remains to be seen. It does seem, at this point, that it will be nearly impossible to reach a movement-wide consensus on this issue, but stranger things have happened (see: Dilworth Plaza is currently a tent-filled protest campground, etc.).

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