IN THE FACE of a looming eviction by the city, members of Occupy Philly voted last night to move their encampment from City Hall's Dilworth Plaza across the street to Thomas Paine Plaza at the Municipal Services Building.
But city officials had a message shortly after Occupiers voted 76-64 in favor of the move during a three-hour general assembly meeting:
Not so fast. No agreement was made for the move, and no permit was issued, authorities said.
In a hastily arranged news conference at City Hall shortly after midnight, Mayor Nutter said that his staff had met with a few members of Occupy and that the city was reviewing their application for a permit to move to the MSB.
The mayor said the protesters need to "chill out" and follow the process laid out by the city.
"We are re-evaluating our entire relationship and how we engage with Occupy Philadelphia," Nutter told reporters.
Earlier in the night, Gwen Snyder, an Occupy leader, said the protesters thought they were obeying the city's eviction notice by moving across the street.
At 11 p.m., after being told to move back to Dilworth Plaza, some protesters tried to storm an entrance into City Hall, demanding to speak with Nutter. They were met by cops in riot gear, but no arrests were reported.
The scene had calmed down an hour later, as Nutter was preparing to address the Occupiers.
Yesterday's vote to move followed a meeting that began indoors, at the Friends Center at 15th and Cherry streets, and ended outdoors, on the west side of City Hall.
It was a heavily debated decision that came hours after 24 protesters - at least half of them Occupy Philly members - were arrested during a sit-in at the Market Street Bridge.
The sit-in followed a march of a few hundred demonstrators who also included unemployed workers and other Occupy supporters, from City Hall to the bridge, in what may have been the biggest push by the "99 percent" in Philadelphia since the local movement started last month.
After last night's general-assembly meeting, several Occupiers began relocating parts of the tent city that had grown on the plaza over the past six weeks.
"I think it's a great move forward for the movement," said Dave Marley, 34, a musician from South Jersey.
He said he hadn't voted because he hasn't been sleeping at the Occupy site.
But members weren't sure that all Occupiers would heed the majority opinion and move overnight.
"I don't think everyone will move," said Snyder, 26, executive director of Jobs With Justice and labor bottom-liner for the movement. "Some feel very strongly about staying, and we support them."
As questions swirled around the encampment about whether to heed the city's orders to move from City Hall or stand their ground, members yesterday took to the streets.
Hundreds of protesters, led by a drumline and flanked by police, forced the shutdown of Market Street between City Hall and 30th Street Station during the evening rush hour. In the end, 24 of them - 17 men and seven women - linked arms and staged a sit-in across the bridge in a defiant, yet peaceful, act of civil disobedience.
Police gave the protesters three warnings to move or risk arrest, and none budged. All 24 were arrested without incident and were loaded into wagons by 7 p.m.
The aim of the march, led by the coalition Fight for Philly, was to push for an end to inequality and to call on Sen. Pat Toomey and all of Congress to create jobs.
"We need to create a country where people have a decent wage to feed their families," said Samuel Jones, 58, of West Philadelphia, as he sat in and linked arms with fellow protesters on the bridge. Jones, who said he was for a jobs bill to end inequality, was among those arrested.
Next to him was Jesse Montgomery, 24, a 2010 graduate of Oberlin College.
"We have a job crisis in this country," Montgomery said about an hour before his arrest. "People in my generation are graduating with degrees, and it's incredibly hard to find good jobs."