City Takes Lenient Stance On Occupy Hartford Protest
By JENNA CARLESSO and STEVEN GOODE
October 12, 2011
HARTFORD —— Police have told the "Occupy Hartford" protesters that they couldn't keep staying in tents on a city-owned parcel at Farmington Avenue and Broad Street.
But on Wednesday, the protesters — and the tents —were still there, winning a reprieve from city officials, who said negotiations are ongoing about whether they can continue sleeping in tents and whether they'd have to apply for permits. The protesters were planning to stay in tents again Wednesday night.
Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said Wednesday that there were no plans to remove or arrest protesters for what he said was a violation of a city ordinance that requires people to have permits to erect structures such as tents or canopies.
The chief said that the city wants to be fair and allow protesters to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. But he also said the time for negotiations will have a limit.
"At some point, we have to reach an agreement and play by the rules," he said.
Members of the "Occupy" group said Wednesday that they were not sure if they would continue to pitch tents, but planned to remain at the site they've been calling Turning Point Park.
"The situation is in flux day-to-day," said JoAnne Bauer, a member of the group. "There is a legal team looking into the ordinances that exist and related court decisions. It's a process."
City Councilman Luis Cotto, who also has been involved in the movement, said demonstrators are willing to sleep in sleeping bags if they are not allowed to put up tents.
"The plan is 24/7 occupation for a finite amount of time, though we haven't decided when it will end," he said Wednesday. "These people are ready and willing to stay there in sleeping bags if they have to. It's about having a space."
The protesters got some support from the city council, which passed a resolution sponsored by Cotto Tuesday night in support of "Occupy Hartford" and also encouraged an ongoing dialogue between city administrators and demonstrators.
More than 100 members of the faculty and staff at Trinity College, the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State university and Wesleyan University have signed a letter stating that they are "in complete solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Hartford protest."
"We applaud and stand with Occupy Hartford and Occupy Wall Street for highlighting the injustice and unfairness that is weakening America and undermining out economy and democracy," the letter states.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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