Occupy Philly Is Costing Taxpayers: Mayor

Police overtime is being paid to handle the Center City protest

By Catherine Brown and Dan Stamm
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 1:09 PM EDT
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Occupying Wall Street and Beyond: May Day Protests

NBCPhiladelphia.com

Police overtime tally is growing to handle Occupy Philly.

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Occupy Philadelphia Stages Peaceful Protest

Several hundred demonstrators carrying signs, chanting and delivering speeches on Dilworth Plaza gathered for the Occupy Philadelphia protest in Center City on Thursday.
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The folks outside City Hall protesting corporate greed and political systems that support it could actually be costing taxpayers thousands.

The Occupy Philadelphia demonstration against corporate influence on politics has a growing cost to the city.

In the first five days since Occupy Philly began last week the Philadelphia Police Department spent $164,000 in overtime costs and $237,000 in regular time, according to Mayor Michael Nutter’s Press Office.

Cost figures like this are normally available upon request. In this case the figure was provided due to media inquiries following similar requests by the AP in reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

The protests use about $80,000 total in police costs daily -- of which about $33,000 a day is being paid towards police overtime. Officers are being sent to the City Hall area to keep the peace and protect not only the protesters but others.

As of Tuesday afternoon the protests were peaceful and no one was arrested to that point, according to city officials.

Should things turn violent the costs could go up.

At the current rate, if Occupy Philly continues to the end of the month, the city would spend another nearly $690,000 on police overtime alone.

Besides the extra police presence being dedicated to the Occupy Philly protests, other city departments have also incurred costs but no exact cost numbers were immediately known, according to Nutter’s people.

The Center City protest began last Thursday. Organizers say the demonstration is an open-ended event. Nearly 100 tents were set up at Dilworth Plaza outside Philadelphia City Hall on Monday.

The protest is modeled on similar events in New York and other cities in the U.S. and overseas. Costs in New York over the past three weeks are close to $2 million for police overtime.

Philadelphia demonstrators have ventured away from Dilworth Plaza several times over the last six days to march around City Hall and to walk to the Liberty Bell Pavilion on Saturday.

A Wednesday march is planned by the Occupy Philly group from Dilworth Plaza to Wells Fargo.

A group called Liberate Philadelphia/Liberate America said on Tuesday a Facebook page was set up to “counter the falsehoods” of Occupy Philadelphia and Occupy Wall Street. A coalition of Philadelphia area Tea Party groups is behind the effort.

"The first lie of Occupy Philadelphia/Occupy Wall Street is that it claims to speak for 99% of Americans," said Teri Adams, Liberate Philadelphia/Liberate America spokeswoman, in a press statement on Tuesday.

The stated purpose of Occupy Philadelphia is "mobilizing hundreds of people expressing discontent with America’s economic and political elites.” The protesters say city officials have been supportive of the demonstrations.

Occupy Philadelphia organizers say protests are scheduled throughout the week “leading up to a global day of action” on Friday.

Read more about Occupy Philadelphia here.

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