A Philadelphia judge ordered residents and supporters to vacate an encampment set up to protest the sale of the University City Townhomes July 22,
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joshua Roberts agreed with the dispute of property owners IBID Associates that protestors were trespassing private property, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Conversely, residents argued those engaged with the encampment are residents and invited guests — allowed to be on the property. The local sheriff's office is responsible for enforcing the judge's ruling of vacating the encampment.
In an email from the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition to WHYY, the coalition said that “Our understanding is that if we are still there tomorrow [August 1] the owner will have to return to court to compel the sheriff to evict. We are not sure how long that may take or when the sheriff may come.”
28-year-long resident Darlene Foreman says the encampment is safe with residents and supporters providing activities for children during the day and movie nights. She said the sheriff's office must give a 24 hour notice before enforcing the judge's ruling.
“[Representatives of IBID Associates/Altman Management] are saying our encampment is dangerous, it’s not dangerous. They’re saying that our encampment is blocking places, nothing is blocked,” Foreman told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Site manager Marla Beckett stated protestors' presence poses security concerns, according to the Inquirer. “We don’t know who all these people are,” Beckett said at a court hearing.
The encampment — started over two weeks ago — includes residents and their supporters in tents at the entrance of the affordable housing complex. The residents of the townhomes organized the encampment to illustrate the effects of housing displacement if evicted on Sept. 7.
Altman Management didn’t renew the UC Townhomes’ 40-year federal housing contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development — leaving up to 69 families to be displaced.
Although a city judge ordered for the encampment to end, organizers and residents say the judge's ruling will not end their protest against displacement and their defense of the encampment.
“The judge did give an ordinance to shut us down, but that changes nothing,” said resident Melvin Hairston in a press conference after the hearing. “As long as we got the people, that’s all that matters.”