Philadelphia PA, Sunday April 8th 2012 – Monday April 9th 2012, On the previous nights General Assembly the occupiers decided to expand their encampments stay in front of the First Amendment monument at Independence Mall indefinitely.
“This is autonomous,” said Micheal Mizner the de facto spokesperson between the Occupiers and the Park Rangers, “I think the external emergence of Occupy Philly will go along way to dispel the myth that Occupy id a short term thing.”
An agreement had been made with the park service that the Occupiers would abide by the terms of the parks general permit despite the Occupiers refusal to get a permit.
The Park service gave a verbal warning for the group to beak camp at 6:10 pm, “if you don't fix the problems you'll have to leave,” said Don Reed Spokesperson for the park service, between the Park, the Asst. Attorney General and Occupiers.“We remove any property who doesn't have some to lay claim to it.”
Questions of concern for the Park were what time for the group to stop handing out material, the presence of structures such as tents, tables and chairs, the presence of personal property, and whether the group would sign a permit, and the donations sign which was made to be taken down.
The issue of tents should have been a mute point considering the Supreme Court has issued a ruling stating that they considered tents to be a symbol, thus an act of expression and covered under the First Amendment.
Negotiations continued on into the the late evening, Mizner continued tirelessly to work with the Rangers, defining the exact expectations of the Park and the Assistant Attorney General and then implementing those requirements, but every time one problem was fixed new one would be brought up so as to make it impossible to even still stay and conduct an effective protest.
In order for the Occupiers to keep their tents they had to remove all of their property from the tents.
This would make it impossible for the to actually keep the tents up due to the strong winds that continually blow across the open Mall.
The Park's reasoning for the removal of person property is the claim by Rangers that the Occupiers had been sleeping in the tents, while spotters kept watch for Rangers making their rounds and giving signals to those in the tents to wake up and sit up.
However, all of the Occupiers who had not slept across the street in front of Wells Fargo sat behind a wall on the other side of the concrete area used for the demonstration from the tents, and the only tents in the area they sat were only two foot square children's tents.
Occasionally Occupiers would drift off to sleep in the cold night air, due to lack of sleep, but were always immediately awaken and told that they should get up and walk around for a bit to wake themselves while on watch.
“That's what our tax money's being used for paying people to make sure people don't sleep and dream,” said Jacob Russell Activist and poet, “the enemy is the dream.”
“Everybody want to make a political statement and that's what this is,” said Anthony Wilson a protester, “you can't be protesting and then give up your rights.”
Finally the Park Service said that the Occupiers could put weights in the tents but left what was defined as weight vague, “anything that can be used to weigh it down can be used.” said Reed, “we're going to post a Ranger by the tents to ensure no one sleeps in them during the night.”
“I'll give you some time, I'm open to that,” said Reed, “I'll give you until tomorrow.”
However moments later he tells the Occupiers who have crowed around him and Mizner, “you have to comply tonight.”
“I'm going to call the Assistant US Attorney General and ask if the Occupiers can Have more time, but if the Assistant Attorney General say to move forward than I need to move forward,” Reed said about giving the Occupiers more time to contact the legal collective for advice on their rights before attempting to remove them and their property by force.
At 8:15 the Occupiers received word that they had to have their things off federal property by 9 pm if no one signs the permit, “the only thing we're asking for is responsibility and knowing what your responsibilities are, if no one signs the permit than we will remove any property there and anyone in in it, it will be considered abandoned and disposed of.” said Reed.
“Every time Occupy has been at the park they have had a permit,” said Reed referring to the previous encampment that had been set up months earlier.
“I think the important thing is to establish a presence here and bring in the numbers,” said Mizner about why he continued to work with the Park Service despite the Parks refusal to bend and continued double speak and skirting of the issues.
“I personally don't take offense to this,” said Nick Wyllie a former Marine, “ I don't think they're harming the First Amendment with this.” Referring to the Park Service having them take down their tents and break up of the protest.
Over the next half hour the Occupiers systematically took down all of their property with the exception of the largest tent which they left for last. They carried their things across the street the sidewalk in front of Wells Fargo, across from the SEPTA bus stop at 5th and Market Streets.
Finally at 9:15 they lifted up the last standing tent and six of the Occupiers carried it in it's entirety across the Mall to Chestnut Street, Chanting “I get confuse when the law changes everyday,” at the top of their lungs.
Nate Kleinman led the procession through the park where they turned toward 5th street, from which they proceeded back up to Market and across the street to Wells Fargo.
The Protesters set the tent down in front of the window on the banks property.
Mizner enumerated the banks many crimes for all to hear, including 300 million take from the Philadelphia education system in deal the bank new where bad, racist predatory loans made to minorities which we're then refer to as “mud people,” by bank executives and other crimes.
Left out was the banks majority ownership of GEO Group and CCA, the two largest private prison companies in the US, which uses prison slave labor to make a profit at little to no cost as the prisoners room and board are paid for by the state and federal government whose district they are located in.
Many of the protesters stayed the night back on the Mall without any of their property, “ If people want to come over and sit vigil autonomously then they're free to do that,” said Mizner
In the morning even as the sun was rising the protesters with the assistance of The Civil Affairs Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department packed their belongings back up and carried it back onto the Mall and Federal property.
Civil Affairs officers called in a Philadelphia Streets Department sanitation crew to assist with the removal of property destroyed by the nights wind and trash that couldn't be disposed of in receptacles.
Once the Occupiers returned their property to the protest site in front of the First Amendment the Park Service reissued their verbal warning from the night before, but nothing could be done until the Park's superintendent got on site to make a final decision.
The Occupiers decided via consensus to wait until they received a citation or the Rangers came to forcefully remove their property.
They filled on tent with balloons and floated it several feet of the ground, and flew another as a kite.
Legal representation wasn't forth coming due to the Easter Holiday and an important meeting held out of town in which many of the ACLU's attorneys were in attendance.
“we have this outreach, we have this struggle to assert out First Amendment Right to say what we want,” said Mizner,” that's what we're doing here.”
Joanne Stocker, Dustin Slaughter and Kenneth Lipp and others are writing a complaint in preparation of filing an injunction in the Federal District Court for Southeastern Pennsylvania.
They're suing to prevent the impediment of their First Amendment Rights to have a tent up as a symbol in line with the US Supreme Court ruling that tents are a freedom of expression issue.
At 2:30 3 black SUV's from the Department of Homeland Security parked next to the park on 5th street, six agents where present.
Agents claimed they were not there for the protesters, but for a terrorist threat made against the American Jewish History Museum.
Museum officials couldn't confirm the validity of the officer statements.
The agents also said that they where there because of the rail system that ran near by.
The agents left the area without incident only asking that we not take any pictures of their faces.