Mayor of Providence will study Occupy's terms to leave park
December 22, 2011
Mayor Angel Taveras says he is considering the Wednesday night vote by "Occupy Providence" to suspend its encampment at Burnside Park if the city opens a day shelter for homeless residents.
"A lot of the protestors aren't homeless, and they're looking out for those who are," Tavaras said of the group that has been protesting economic inequalities. "So, I'm going to see exactly what their goal is on this and maybe we can accomplish it in a way, working with some of the organizations that work in the city now addressing this issue."
Taveras said he does not believe the vote is a kind of extortion. "No, I don't, I feel like they're looking out for people who are most in need, and that's the homeless population."
As for suspending their camp in the park, Taveras indicated that he would not welcome the encampment to return to the park next spring.
"I've always said that they could not stay indefinitely, and that's what we've been working toward. I'm hopeful that we can resolve this in a way that really will distinguish us in a positive way from the rest of the country."
Unlike "Occupy Wall Street" groups in other cities like New York and Boston, those in the Providence group have not been run off or arrested by police.
"After 68 days of encampment and three hours of deliberations, Occupy Providence on Wednesday decided to leave Burnside Park, contingent on the City of Providence opening a day shelter for the homeless for the winter. Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare attended the meeting, which was conducted in the Waterplace Park tunnel, and said he would take the proposal back to the city Thursday.
The city will be the Grinch if they don't give people a place to go during the day for the next three months. This proposal says it all folks. This is a short to the point form of the 4 page one that went out earlier. The ball is in the city's court now.
THE VOTE IS TODAY AT 3PM. EXPECT RAIN, WE MAY BE IN THE TUNNEL(s)
*This is the full text of the proposal:*
“Occupy Providence hereby presents to the offices of the City of Providence the following offer:
1) On condition of what follows, Occupiers will suspend overnight protest in Burnside Park effective the second day of January, 2012
2) The City of Providence commits a public space to be used as a community day center for its homeless residents”
*Two proposals will be presented before finalizing a vote*
“Occupy Providence defines this agreement to be the following:
Tents and other dwellings erected in protest and protected speech will be removed from Burnside Park with the understanding that this does not represent a concession with regard to our First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly.
Occupy Providence continues to recognize the rights of autonomous individuals as sovereign members of society.
Occupy Providence retains the right to other forms of protest and protected speech.
“Occupy Providence defines and explains its request of the City of Providence as the following:
In direct concert with third-party stakeholders, the City of Providence should, immediately, allow for the provision of a temporary day center for homeless persons this winter, in recognition of harsh conditions faced by thousands of Providence’s residents who are without true homes or daytime shelter.
The chosen location will be dependent upon a feasibility assessment by third-party stakeholders in homeless care and advocacy. Logistical and safety concerns will be met in dialogue, a conversation that is first contingent upon an affirmative response from the City of Providence to this proposal.
Having recognized the willingness of its people to take care of their own, the City of Providence should thus open a public space as shelter from the cold, a place for decent activities and pursuits for the members of the Providence community who suffer the most from inadequacies in the system, from imbalances and injustices in society.
Most importantly, the City of Providence should proceed in an expedient fashion. Without immediate intervention, many Rhode Islanders will face the unforgiving cold alone. They will find themselves in daily exile in buses, terminals, libraries and other public places. Worse of all, and an abomination to everyone, there are many members of the Rhode Island community who will die this winter from unnecessary exposure, many only a few feet away from the locked door of a warm, safe place.
Out of concern for the safety of its residents, and in recognition that the people of Providence themselves stand prepared to rise to the occasion, the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island should thus do what is necessary to demonstrate that the safety of ALL of its residents is paramount to a healthy society.
There is no true appeal to safety that is not tied deeply in the humanity of us all. It is only by offering a more safe and dignified life to all of its residents that the city should feel able to request a vacation of our chosen peaceful means of speech and assembly.
Upon these terms we hereby offer a message of love and peace at the close of this long and difficult year, the year of the protester, but not the last. For the New Year we here pledge a renewed promise, a promise of continued struggle for a just and equitable society for all people.”