Occupy Philadelphia’s tent village continues to grow outside City Hall, despite the city’s plans to begin construction of an ice skating rink in the lower plaza in mid-November.
Modeled after the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, Occupy Philadelphia is an organized protest that includes a food tent, medical tents and other resources working together in a community effort.
Occupy Philadelphia Media and Public Relations Committee Organizer Jon Laing explained that no “official” decisions for relocation have been made. At the moment, “we have no plans to move,” he said. He added that neither the city’s plans nor Occupy Philadelphia’s reaction are “set in stone” at the moment.
Members of the protest feel “betrayed” by the city, Laing said. The permit that Occupy Philadelphia applied for did not have an official end date, but implied the end with the beginning of construction.
The protest organizers originally chose City Hall to host the protest because it is “visible” and “spacious,” Occupy Philadelphia member Douglas Massida said.
The current tent count stands at around 350, according to Stanley Joseph, who was manning the information tent. There is ample room for more participants, he said. Massida explained that the effort extends beyond the protest grounds as members of the wider Philadelphia community are donating boxes of food and supplies daily.
Laing expects that come November, negotiations will take place between the Occupy protest and the city, as the city “wants to open lines of communication” with the protesters.
Plans to create the skating rink had been in the works long before the beginning of the protest, and most occupiers did not see the city’s current efforts as an instrument to kick them off City Hall grounds.
Massida explained that though he and other protesters are “sorry” to pose a space conflict with the city’s schedule, “we have a higher calling.”
Though the overarching goals and aspirations of the movement remain ambiguous, Massida explained that “we want a process to discuss the problems” that the 99 percent are experiencing.
Despite the rain on Wednesday, the makeshift kitchen was active and energy was high on the protest grounds. An older man made his way to the information tent and asked, “How far are we from revolution?”