[Photo by ROBIN ODLAND]
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Sunday “intolerable” conditions at the Occupy Philadelphia camp and a lack of cooperation among protesters has forced him to beef up police presence at the tent city outside City Hall. The mayor said posting more uniformed officers in the Dilworth Plaza area has become necessary because of growing health and safety concerns and a fractured leadership at the camp that has left the city still pressing the protesters to move to make way for a $50 million construction project. “We are reevaluating our entire engagement and relationship with Occupy Philadelphia,” Nutter told reporters at a news conference. The mayor stopped short of saying the protesters, who occupy dozens of tents outside City Hall, would be evicted or forced to relocate. The latest Occupy response to the city was a vote Friday among protesters to remain at the site rather than move to a plaza across the street as the city has asked. “I’m not getting into deadlines,” Nutter said. “When we need to act, we will act.” Nutter said “serious health and safety issues” occur almost daily at the encampment, including thefts and assaults — the latest an alleged sexual assault reported Saturday. Emergency responders made 15 runs last week involving assaults, a tent fire, hypothermia, and other safety concerns involving the camp, Nutter said. The mayor also cited the risk of fire to the camp and the historic City Hall building given the quantity of combustible material on the plaza, along with camping stoves, candles, lanterns, propane tanks, and people smoking. In addition, the mayor said that despite the presence of portable toilets, people continue to defecate and urinate outdoors.”We do not seek confrontation. We prefer cooperation,” he said. MORE
DAILY NEWS: Police yesterday continued to investigate an alleged rape that occurred Saturday night inside an Occupy Philly tent. “There was sexual activity,” police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said last night. “We’re not sure if it was consensual or not.” Evers said the Special Victims Unit and the District Attorney’s Office will review surveillance tape – from City Hall, SEPTA and private area cameras – to help determine what happened. A 25-year-old woman from Atlantic City reported that she was raped about 7:45 p.m. Saturday; she called 9-1-1 on a pay phone near City Hall. Within 20 minutes, police arrested the suspect, a 50-year-old man with addresses in Michigan and Philadelphia, Evers said. 6ABC said the man had been arrested in a string of robberies in Michigan. Evers said the man “has a prior record in Michigan,” but wouldn’t elaborate. He said that the man was released early yesterday morning but that police know who he is and how to find him, if needed. MORE
PW: At an emergency press conference held in room 202 of City Hall early this afternoon, Mayor Nutter confirmed reports that police arrested a man suspected of raping a woman at Occupy Philly’s Dilworth Plaza encampment last night. 6ABC reported early this morning that “Police say the victim is a 23-year-old woman from Atlantic City, and the alleged rapist is a 50-year-old man who has reportedly been arrested a number of times for a string of robberies in Michigan.” Nutter also announced a change in tune with regard to how the city will deal with the movement from here on out. The mayor, who has been praised for unparalleled cooperation with the local leg of the Occupy Wall Street movement, repeatedly characterized Occupy Philly leadership as “uncooperative.” He called the movement a “public health and safety hazard,” and said though he initially supported—and defended—their right to protest, the execution of the movement here is no longer about free speech. In other words: No more Mr. Nice Guy for Mayor Nutter. “We’re re-evaluating our entire relationship,” Nutter said early this afternoon. “The way we have engaged has been forthright and direct, we have done everything we said we were going to do in terms of our relationship with them. And they have now … done … few if any of the things they have said they’d do.” MORE
OCCUPY PHILLY MEDIA: It is true that our continued occupation will interfere with a renovation project that will create job opportunities, but it is not true (or, at least, highly debatable) that the renovation itself is “for the 99%” as Michael Nutter says. The renovation, in its most general significance, is a privatization of public space, an enclosure of the commons in favor of a falsely sterilized, for-profit, private park of amusements for the privileged. It is not only this, true, and our General Assembly thought long and hard, weighing the good and the bad. We were not insensitive to the fact that a long-term movement fighting for serious change might have to forgo small short-run offers. But let it be on record that our decision to stay was a reflection of our overall feeling in GA that the force of a national occupation movement for large-scale change is more in the interest of people than temporary jobs deployed toward the elimination of the very space that makes democracy conceivable. It was not an easy decision, but it was one we made for significant and carefully-weighed reasons. The only things that have changed are 1.) Occupy Philly has voted directly and democratically (as best as we know how, so far!) that we are, in fact, the Occupation of Philadelphia first and foremost, not just buddies with Michael Nutter and Rich Negrin. It’s true, this is a new development: we have declared outright our resolve to take and occupy what is ours, our perhaps not sufficiently explicit intention all along. 2.) Mayor Nutter has now been officially re-elected, and is less concerned with feigning a democratic spirit because he is now less accountable to voters. This is perhaps the only actual, distinct change that occurred immediately prior to Nutter’s newfound disrespect for the occupiers at his doorstep. MORE
PHAWKER: #OccupyPhilly we love ya, but you’re taking your eye off the ball. If this becomes about OP vs. the mayor, the 1% will have won. Again.