Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Detroit Seeks Two Week Extension of Grand Circus Park Permit

Occupy Detroit seeks 2-week extension of Grand Circus Park permit; no eviction tonight

6:45 PM, Nov. 14, 2011
By Megha Satyanarayana

With their 30-day permit set to expire at 10 p.m. tonight, Occupy Detroit representatives asked Detroit city officials for a two-week permit extension to break down their camp at Grand Circus Park and move it to a building in Southwest Detroit.

Zachary Steve, a student and community organizer involved with the encampment, said a non-profit called This Hood of Ours filed two permit requests Monday morning on behalf of the occupiers, one with the Detroit City Council and the other with Parks and Recreation Department.

He said there was some confusion over what city department had jurisdiction over permitting them, since they neither contribute nor use city revenue. He said their permit is being treated as though it’s for a picnic. They expect to hear Tuesday whether or not the extension has been granted.

Steve, 22, said at the morning council meetings, there were assurances that police would not evict them before Tuesday's permit decision. The Free Press has left messages with Detroit Police and city council President Charles Pugh’s spokeswoman seeking comment.

“We’re trying to take every avenue we have to,” Steve said. “They appreciate we are in transition and don’t want to leave the park a mess.”

Occupy Detroit took over Grand Circus Park in mid-October, setting up a tent city and protesting in a mostly peaceful way against what participants believe is income inequity between America’s mostly wealthy 1% and everyone else. Nationwide, other cities have also had demonstrations and occupations in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in mid-September. There are been reports of arrests, deaths and sexual assault in other cities, but so far, in Detroit, the demonstrations have been uneventful.

Adrian Vaughn, 48, said he’s been at the camp for about 10 days. He was part of the group that presented the permit request to the city council during the public comment period of Monday’s Detroit City Council committee meeting. The request was rolled onto the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting before paperwork was filed. The part-time painter said he has no permanent home, but decided to join the movement because, “I understand what these people are going through.”

The group will be meeting at 6 p.m. for a general assembly to go over their plan to move to the building on Michigan Avenue and Wesson, said Steve. They will have another demonstration at 7:30 p.m.

Kirsten Ussery, spokeswoman for Council President Charles Pugh, said the council wasn’t able to vote on the permit in Monday’s meeting. She said Pugh is in support of the protestors and did seek assurances Monday morning from police that they would not be evicted tonight.

“They’ve been peaceful and respectful. He wants to make sure they have time,” Ussery said.

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