Occupy Delaware plans to set up in Wilmington’s Fletcher Brown Park beginning Saturday. The big question is how long will they be there?
The group wants to set up their encampment Saturday morning and remain through the weekend. However, Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will only grant Occupy Delaware permission to be in the park from 8am until dusk.
Brown Park located near the Brandywine River at Market Street was the alternative choice agreed to by the group after the city of Wilmington told them they could not camp out in Rodney Square.
The group started negotiations with DNREC for Brown Park. DNREC said it would waived the permit fees, but won’t allow over night camping. They also want Occupy Delaware out of the park by Monday. In a letter to Occupy Delaware the reason for wanting the group out during the week is because it is used by a daycare center at 13th and Market.
The DNREC statement goes on to state: “your request to use the park “indefinitely” is also inconsistent with the Park’s long-standing policies that you initialed on the application. Specifically, the Rules, Regulations and Policies applicable to park use provide that the “park is open from 8:00 AM to Sunset. Sunset is one half hour before dusk.”
Occupy Delaware, like the other Occupy groups doesn’t claim a central spokesperson. However, the group has sent out emails suggesting people call Governor Jack Markell’s office to let the group camp in the park. Newsworks Delaware did get a call from Alan Muller who said he was not speaking for the group. He did say, “Occupy Delaware needs to establish credibility and now is a time to take a stand. Occupy Delaware is feeling it’s way through the process.”
Another part of the Occupy movement, Occupy-Delaware, says this whole issue may end up in court. Liz Allen says their part of movement is involved with on-line organization, but does support the actions of Occupy Delaware. She says they’ve been in contact with attorney David Finger. Finger told the group the state does not have the right to block the overnight encampment. He says if Occupy Delaware doesn’t go into the area where the daycare center activities are, it should be able to stay in the park.
Governor Markell’s office said they are monitoring the process.
There will be a 6pm meeting among Occupy Delaware organizers. Leif Carney, one of the voices of the movement, says there is a sense that there will be some kind of civil disobedience if an agreement can’t be worked out. He says there have been discussions about other locations. “Christina Park was offered by the city, but was rejected by the group because of safety concerns,” he said. He said there is even talk about putting the encampment under I-95, but the group wants to be in a high profile area.
The ACLU says they have been in contact with Occupy Delaware, but have no plans to file for a federal injunction to stop the state from blocking an overnight encampment. Katheen McRee, executive director, said in a statement: “The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that public streets and parks belong to the people, noting: “Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been part of the privilege, immunities, rights and liberties of citizens.” However, she added the state does have the right to block the group from using any area used by the day car center.