PHILADELPHIA — Protesters with Occupy Philadelphia were working Friday to get permits for a new site after they were rebuffed in their attempt to move from the City Hall plaza where they have been camped since early October.
The city has asked the protesters to move to make way for a long-planned $50 million renovation of their current home, Dilworth Plaza.
After a vote Thursday, protesters began packing up their approximately 350 tents and moving across the street to the Thomas Paine Plaza. But they were rebuffed by police because they didn't have a permit for the new location.
With the protesters back at their original home for now, they are now working to get permits for the new site, said Occupy Philadelphia member Chris Goldstein. At least two different groups of protesters are trying to get permits, Goldstein said. "Both groups are showing a willingness to try to work within the city's guidelines," he said.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said the city had received one permit application and was reviewing it, a process that could take until early next week.
"We're looking at it," Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said. "We didn't ask them to go anywhere without a permit."
Thursday night's move back to the original site was peaceful and there were no arrests, according to Philadelphia police. Hours earlier, about two dozen protesters were arrested peacefully for blocking a downtown bridge during a march decrying income inequality.
On Friday afternoon, about a dozen Occupy Philadelphia protesters were arrested during a sit-in at a Wells Fargo bank downtown. Police Lt. Raymond Evers could not immediately provide the number of people arrested or the charges they face.
In Harrisburg, city employees confiscated the tents of Occupy Harrisburg protesters who had been camping at a park near the state Capitol.
Occupy Philadelphia is aimed at condemning economic disparity and the influence of big corporations on government, and is one of numerous movements across the state created to show solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York.
Last week, the Philadelphia protesters voted not to move from their City Hall site, despite the city's request that they do so. This week, the city posted notices telling them to leave, and unions expressed concern that the encampment was standing in the way of a project that would employ nearly 1,000 people. That prompted a second vote Thursday, in which protesters decided to move.
Occupy Philadelphia didn't have a permit for the City Hall site when the protest began more than a month ago. Eventually, they got one, but the city told them they needed to be out by the time construction began.
Now, the city says they need to leave that site, but will need a permit to go somewhere else. If another permit is granted, Philadelphia Managing Director Richard Negrin said, it will likely come with more restrictions this time.
While the protests have been mostly peaceful, he said, they have not been clean and have not always been lawful. The protests have also been inconveniencing commuters and others, Negrin said.
"There's no Wall Street banker sitting in traffic on Market Street," he said.