As Occupy demonstrators across the country rally against banks on May Day, Delaware protestors came together to also stand against Wilmington city officials who want them out of Peter Spencer Plaza.
Wilmington Mayor James Baker had told members of Occupy Delaware that they must leave and cleanup their campground by Tuesday, May 1st. The demonstrators have made Spencer Plaza their home since before Thanksgiving of last year.
“I felt like we had a good working relationship, unfortunately we have not received any real feed back since around December. At any beckon call we ensured that we took care of any concerns that they had, whether things were attached to trees or there was improper or unsafe placement of something and then they stopped engaging us,” said Michael Mizner of Occupy Delaware.
As a result of the warning to evict, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware has filed a complaint against the city on behalf of Occupy Delaware. ACLU-DE has even asked the court for an injunction preventing any action to force the Delaware protesters out of the city.
“The City of Wilmington made an agreement with Occupy Delaware protestors in November to allow access to Peter Spencer Plaza for as long as they wish to use it. They cannot now renege on that agreement,” said Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware.
In a letter released by the mayor’s office in April, city officials admit that they agreed to allow Occupy Delaware to use Spencer Plaza to express its First Amendment right to engage in protected speech. However, Mayor Baker, says the protestors have engaged in criminal behavior at the site since the agreement.
“The Occupy Delaware encampment in Spencer Plaza has become more than just a public nuisance with its unsightly and disorderly appearance-it also represents a danger to the people camping there as well as to the public,” added Mayor James Baker.
The Delaware demonstrators are even accused of participating in illegal drug activity, public intoxication, the destruction of public property, as well as safety and sanitation violations.
“We’ve actively solicited them, I personally actively solicited them and the fire chief and inspectors to come out here to talk to me, to let me know anything that was out of code so we can fix, and they were hesitating to do so and it is very unfortunate,” said Mizner.
Phone calls to the mayor’s office to learn what will happen if Occupy protesters refuse to leave by the end of the day have not been returned.
Originally, the Occupy Delaware negotiated a 3 day stay in Spencer Plaza. Action by the ACLU made that an open ended encampment.