Updated 11/08/2011 01:53 PM
City Council denies 'Occupy Raleigh' request to move to park
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RALEIGH -- A City Council committee turned down a request by the Occupy Raleigh movement to set up camp in another part of the city. For about a month, protesters have spent day and night on the sidewalk at the State Capitol.
"This is day 25,” said protester Kurt Zender said as he changed the sign at the Occupy Raleigh location before heading to city hall to speak for his fellow protesters. "Our being here shows our willingness to work with you."
Occupy Raleigh petitioned the City Council Law and Public Safety Committee to move from their location on the sidewalk at the State Capitol grounds. They haven't been allowed to set up tents
"The symbol of this movement is an occupation,a camp. We need a place that is visible and is a welcoming atmosphere so that strangers will feel safe and comfortable speaking with us about these critical issues,” said another protester, Joseph Huberman.
Avery Upchurch Park, which is right behind City Hall, is where protesters wanted to set up camp. But, council members and the city attorney had concerns, safety among them.
"Safety. We do have a right to assembly but there is nothing to stop anyone from instigating or starting something with the group,” said Councilman Eugene Weeks.
City staff say Raleigh has already spent about $60,000 policing the occupy movement assisting State Capitol police. They say it could cost $400 to $800 a day to have 24 hour security at another site.
The concerns didn't end there. Across the street from Upchurch Park are high-end condominium homes.
"It's unsightly. We don't want that in the park 100 feet from where we live,” said Brian Anderson with Dawson Homeowners Association.
The committee decided they would help the protesters find private property to set up a camp. It's a disappointment to Zender but he says Occupy Raleigh will stay where they are until they can find something else.
“It's going to be difficult to maintain a sidewalk occupation. Not that we won't be dedicated. it's just frustrating and hard to do,” said Zender.
Council members say Mayor-Elect Nancy McFarlane has been working behind the scenes to help find private property for the occupy movement. Nearly 30 people have been arrested since demonstrators began their protest.