Occupy Delaware moves protest to the middle of Wilmington

The Occupy Delaware movement kept to its word by leaving H. Fletcher Brown Park to avoid a conflict with a state order and a Wilmington Daycare Center.

However, the group isn’t done. It voted to move a small group of protesters to Spencer Plaza in the 800 block of French Street. The location was selected because it is within eye-shot of the U.S. Federal court building and city and state government buildings.

Leif Carney, one of members, but not a spokesperson for Occupy Delaware said several areas were scouted on Sunday and the group voted to move the protest to Spencer Plaza. He said the high visibility of the location was important to the group.

That took the protest out of state jurisdiction and back in the lap of the city of Wilmington. The group had originally wanted to Rodney Square, but the city refused. That’s where the state stepped in and the group camped in the state owned park over Saturday night.

Wilmington Police officials told the group they are in violation of a city ordinance that prohibits use of the plaza as an overnight camping site. However, city officials seem to be willing to take a wait and see attitude.

John Rago, spokesman for Mayor James Baker said, “the City further informed Occupy Delaware officials today that while the group may stay in either Spencer or Freedom Plaza through tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. without the use of any tents or structures, Occupy Delaware must file an application with the City to obtain further permission to use Spencer Plaza and/or must seek the permission of the State, New Castle County and the City of Wilmington for further use of Freedom Plaza, which is jointly managed by the three governments.”

Police on the scene said the biggest concern was the group would put up tents, which would cause safety concerns for the city. Police Captain Christine Dunning read the order to group. Those who remained in protest took black markers and wrote the number of the attorney retained to represent them in case they were arrested.

As the scene shifted downtown in Wilmington H. Fletcher Brown Park was being cleaned after the overnight encampment. DNREC reported all trash had been removed. Occupy Delaware camped out in violation of state order to leave on Saturday. However, Carney said meetings over Friday and Saturday convinced state and city officials the protesters would continue to be non-violent.

Spokesman for Governor Jack Markell, Brian Sealander said Brandywine Park had been offered as a protest camping site. “The state made a reasonable and respectful offer. They chose not to accept it,” he said.

Peter Spencer Plaza was named after a man born into slavery, but became the founder of Delaware’s Independent Black Church movement. The site is where his first church stood. Spencer also founded the August Black Quarterly in the 1800’s, one of the earliest black folk festivals.

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