The city's Department of Licenses & Inspection has come a'knockin on Occupy Philly's door ... or perhaps the right word would be "tent."
On Oct. 11, the city's managing director Richard Negrin sent Occupy Philly a letter (see below) detailing "concerns" from L&I, which followed an inspection from city officials the previous day. Negrin asked the protesters to do a number of things: remove any combustibles that are close to City Hall, remove all their items from the stairs and walkways, make sure all their tents are self-supporting, etc.
The fire department, Negrin said, had a request, too: Allow "20 feet as an emergency lane to be able to maneuver around the plaza."
Negrin also said, "We recommend the use of portable toilets." And he mentioned a few other issues: "Public urination, litter and several acts of graffiti have been witnessed and captured in photos."
This means that the city is spending more on Occupy Philly than just police overtime, which Jan Ransom and Catherine Lucey report is costing an average of about $32,800 a day. L&I and the fire department are getting involved. Another minor cost is trash pickup.
Rebecca Rhynhart, the city's budget director, said she is gathering data on how much all city departments are spending on Occupy Philly, but that her research isn't complete yet.
Gwen Snyder, an Occupy Philly protester, said the group's general assembly hasn't yet made a formal decision about how to respond to the letter, which also notes that Occupy Philly must leave when construction on Dilworth Plaza begins.
She said that in regards to the L&I and other concerns, "Personally, a lot of that seems reasonable, but I'm not sure how the general assembly is going to vote."
Snyder also argued that fewer police could watch over Occupy Philly, noting that the protesters have their own safety and sanitation committees.
"We're a nonviolent group of folks," she emphasized.
And when it comes to the public urination and graffiti noted by the city, Snyder said, "There are a lot of people there, and the people who are actively organizing aren't necessarily the people who are being photographed."
Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, told the Daily News earlier this week that police are needed and "must be ready for any contingency that might arise."
Negrin's letter also expressed praise for the group's relationship with the city, noting that, "I remain convinced that Philadelphia can serve as a beacon of the First Amendment."
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