Why Did the Big, Black Box Cross the Road?

Posted on November 8, 2011 by

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Philadelphia Police

A member of the Crime Scene Unit takes pictures of the box.

While many enjoyed the wedding at Occupy on Sunday afternoon, others were across the street in Municipal Services Building Plaza, or Thomas Paine Plaza, trying to decide how to protect a black warming box constructed overnight.

A big, black box sitting adjacent to the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo was the issue. With no permit, police told Occupiers, the City would dismantle the box.

On the upper level of Dilworth Plaza, also known as the People’s Plaza, a flurry of excitement arose as several Occupiers, including members of the Safety Working Group, called for support. Their need: people to stand in solidarity to prevent a warming station from being dismantled. A crowd rushed over to City Plaza, also known as Thomas Paine Plaza to Occupiers; some crossed at the crosswalk at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, and some crossed JFK Boulevard behind the Food Tent.

To the left of the ever-growing crowd, Philadelphia Police  – discernible by their orange and black armbands – stood and watched the crowd.

The warming box

Occupiers discuss whether to stand in solidarity to keep the Philadelphia Police Department from dismantling the box.

The box cost $800 and seven hours to build; several Occupiers worked all night on its construction. The box, which was built to fire code, would serve a warming station for Occupiers in the winter.

The question before the crowd: do we act in solidarity to protect the box?

While a discussion, which you can watch on YouTube, developed around authorizing the Legal Support Group to obtain a permit, holding the ground from eviction, and expansion through adding more tents, ultimately Occupiers chose to stand in solidarity to protect the box.

In the end, the Philadelphia Police Department brought in the Crime Scene Unit, several vans, and uniformed officers to evict the Occupiers and dismantle the box. However, no arrests were made.

The black box was reportedly wheeled back to People’s Plaza, and other Occupiers who have chosen to expand to Paine Plaza are still there. The permit concerning an expansion is a part of the eviction/expansion debate, which will be presented to the General Assembly for a vote on Friday, November, 11, 2011.

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Posted in: News