Occupy Philly Votes to Move to Thomas Paine – NOW

Posted on November 17, 2011 by


After at least two hours of discussion, the Occupy Philly General Assembly has voted to move from Dilworth Plaza, or People’s Plaza, to Municipal Services Building Plaza, or Thomas Paine Plaza.

The meeting began with clarifications by the Legal Collective, including that the eviction notice was no guarantee the City of Philadelphia would not come and clear out the camp tonight. Members of the collective also said the city had confirmed an application for a permit had been received from Reasonable Solutions; however, the city had sent a permit application on their own accord.

It is unclear the outcome if one group was awarded a permit, when the other group was not. Concerns did arise about Reasonable Solutions permit application. However, those concerns did not dampen the outcome of the vote.

In a proposal crafted by several working groups and presented by Direct Action, the proposal said the move was in the interest of Occupy Philly and expected support from the unions. Due to recent developments around eviction, the proposal enacted a rapid response team and phone tree list to rouse support in moving the camp.

Those Working Groups included the Labor WG, Food WG, Media WG, Safety WG, and Direct Action. The proposal was in response to the city’s aggression as of late, the support of Occupy by the labor movement, and Reasonable Solutions WG that undermined Occupy’s democratic process. You can read the Labor WG’s statement concerning this proposal here.

In all, 15 friendly amendments were added to stack. However, many amendments were duplicates. After streamlining the process to take just straw polls after each amendment was introduced, only three amendments and one small change in wording were voted upon.

Some raised concerns about the sense of urgency surrounding the proposal. Others felt like the move was a reaction of fear to the city. Still others argued that Reasonable Solutions already submitted a permit for Thomas Paine Plaza; no guarantee existed that the group would honor the present GA system of Occupy.

Because the American Friends Service Center is only open to Occupy Philly until 9:15 p.m., the GA voted to continue discussion outside at the People’s Plaza. Throughout the discussion, several concerns were raised about the proposal.

The three friendly amendments that made the cut:

  • Move to Rittenhouse Square rather than Thomas Paine Plaza
  • March against traffic as we move our stuff
  • Move at noon rather than at night

Many concerns arose around moving to Rittenhouse Square, including the city’s restrictions on First Amendment rights, the move could be seen as an escalation, and the move could detract from the real fight with corporations. Also, some raised concerns about the homeless losing the only shelter that they have. Because of the time, the last two amendments were discussed and voted upon quickly.

None of the amendments passed. After a straw poll and binding vote, however, the proposal to activate the rapid response and phone tree list was activated; Occupy will begin moving to Thomas Paine Plaza tonight.

At the time this story was posted, NBC Philadelphia posted, “Some #OccupyPhilly tents at City Hall have started to come down but it’s unclear where the protestors are headed.” Again, it seems, not everyone has understood the process of direct democracy.

Posted in: News