Some members of Occupy Philly staged a peaceful sit-in downtown Sunday as a deadline that ordered them to leave the site of their protest set by the city passed.
Along the steps leading into Dilworth Plaza, nearly 50 people sat in lines, their arms linked, refusing to leave. A police presence was heavier than usual but no orders to leave had been issued.
Mayor Michael Nutter set a deadline of 5 p.m. for demonstrators to remove their belongings from their City Hall encampment to the Thomas Paine Plaza across the street on the condition they don't stay overnight. The permit allows demonstrators to protest from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but no sleeping bags or tents are allowed. Some have already done so.
Occupy Philly has managed to avoid aggressive confrontations so far, no arrests were made as of 10 p.m. Sunday evening.
“Right now, we have a peaceful demonstration,” said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, nearly 45 minutes after the 5 p.m. deadline.
The mood was upbeat in the hours before the evening deadline, with groups playing music and singing hymns. A few dozen tents remained scattered on the plaza, along with trash, piles of dirty blankets and numerous signs reading, “You can't evict an idea.”
“We can definitely claim a victory,” said Mike Yaroschuk, who was in the process of dismantling his tent. “We've opened a lot of minds, hearts and eyes.”
Also in attendance was a conservative coalition of tea partiers known as "Liberate Philadelphia" who came to protest the Occupy movement. They back Mayor Nutter saying protesters have cost the city over a million dollars, become a health and public nuisance and are standing in the way of construction jobs for City Hall's pending renovations.
Philadelphia's eviction notice is unique in that protesters are being asked to move to make way for a construction project.
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