Occupy Philly Plans To Protest Eviction
At 3 p.m. this afternoon, about 200 Occupy Philly protesters gathered at the United Methodist Church across the street from City Hall—the same church OP began planning the Dilworth Plaza occupation two months ago—for an emergency meeting to discuss tomorrow’s 5 p.m. deadline (handed down by Mayor Nutter yesterday afternoon) for Occupy Philly to voluntarily leave Dilworth before being evicted.
Based on all that was said over two hours, it appears that many protesters on hand plan to fight the planned eviction rather than decamp, and—despite the benign PPD presence at Dilworth over the past two months—many believe a potentially violent police raid (similar to those that have already happened in NYC, Boston, Portland, Oakland and other cities with Occupy encampments) is imminent. The group separated into several smaller groups to come up with tactics for both the eviction itself and how to deal with the immediate aftermath. Among the ideas put forth for once the 5 p.m. deadline passes: Sitting down and and joining hands in a silent line snaking through Dilworth Plaza; locking hands in a circle around the encampment and singing songs; and putting up “barricades” in the form of Occupy artwork and banners.
One woman suggested fellow protesters “wear goggles, put pots and pans on your head, and cover your skin” in anticipation of police using pepper spray or other means to subdue and/or arrest protesters. Another facilitator warned the group that the eviction might not occur right at 5 p.m. tomorrow—that it could go down in the wee hours of the morning, or perhaps even a day or two later, and protesters should remain alert and prepared at all hours. Others suggested intense law and rights training over the next 24 hours in order to handle the particulars of being arrested. One man reminded the group to remove laptops and other valuables from their tents prior to 5 p.m., since many Occupiers in other cities had such items confiscated during police raids. Occupiers were also encouraged to document the eviction as much as possible in photos and video. Facilitators and other protesters repeatedly insisted that whatever form the eviction protest takes tomorrow, it must remain peaceful and non-violent.
Meanwhile, as the eviction planning meeting was going on at the church, most of Occupy Philly’s homeless community remained back at Dilworth Plaza. Earlier in the day, several homeless people still camping out told PW they plan to clear out of the space before tomorrow’s 5 p.m. deadline, even if they’re not sure just yet where they’ll go. “I don’t need to get arrested,” said one man. “The cops are just waitin’ to crack some skulls,” said another man. “I’m not gonna be here when that happens.”