University News

City hands eviction notices to Occupiers

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Pare distributed eviction notices to the members of Occupy Providence residing in Burnside Park yesterday afternoon, mandating that they vacate the park within 72 hours.

The notices list a series of ordinances the group violates — including hosting a large gathering in the park without a permit, failing to keep off the grass and littering — and states that the park is closed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The Occupiers, most of whom seemed unsurprised by Pare’s announcement, discussed how they would respond to the eviction notice at the group’s General Assembly meeting yesterday afternoon.

Miriam Weizenbaum, a lawyer at DeLuca and Weizenbaum, Ltd., explained possible options to the meeting’s attendees. The group can bring its case to court prior to the eviction, wait to act until after the eviction or opt not to involve the judicial system at all. Weizenbaum said the group’s chances of winning in court are slim, but she said a court case could buy the group time and provide a venue for further demonstration.

“They can move people off this property at any time, especially after nine at night,” Weizenbaum reminded the protesters. She recommended that the group assemble a legal team to investigate the issues.

During the Assembly meeting, protesters also agreed to a series of proposals from the Direct Action Working Group, a component of Occupy Providence. The group will host a day of solidarity on Sunday, when it hopes to gather supporters from along the East Coast to oppose the eviction. The group also agreed to measures to prepare for the eviction, including nonviolence training, rights education, the establishment of a legal team to create a legal strategy and the development of a contingency plan.

Participants also discussed the creation of affinity groups. Those unwilling to face arrest on Sunday can show their support for more devoted protesters by joining these groups, promising to contact family and lawyers and providing other assistance in the case of arrest.

“There are some individuals in the group planning on complying” with the order, said Michael McCarthy, one of the members of Occupy Providence specifically addressed in the commissioner’s letter. Most, however, do not, he said.

“You have folks who are very committed to committing what is essentially an act of civil disobedience,” he said. “If it comes down to arrest, then that might be something they would be willing to endure.”

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