UPDATE: CITY DEFERS OCCUPY BALTIMORE PERMIT REQUEST, SUGGESTS COMPROMISE; OCCUPATION CALLS FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT
Occupy Baltimore has been peacefully gathering in McKeldin Square on the corner of Pratt & Light Streets since October 4th, 2011. Today marks the start of the fourth week of the encampment. Early last week, after pressure from the Baltimore City police department and the department of parks and recreation, Occupy Baltimore filed an application for a permit to continue the encampment indefinitely.
On Monday, Occupy Baltimore received word that the Department of Parks & Recreation Department has not approved their permit application, and instead suggested a compromise that would allow Occupy Baltimore to continue to occupy McKeldin Square indefinitely without a permit during the daytime hours, but limit overnight presence to a maximum of 2 people, and restrict the encampment as a whole to a smaller corner of the Square (full text below). The city has asked for an answer to the proposed deal by Wednesday Oct 26th and stated that if Occupy Baltimore agrees, they will not be removed from the park for failing to obtain a permit. Should Occupy Baltimore refuse to comply with the requests to limit the overnight presence, then the city "has the right to terminate these special accommodations," though no specific date for termination has been announced. In preparation for any possible intervention by the city, Occupy Baltimore participants are issuing a general call for all allies to join the encampment starting tonight to support and protect the group sustaining the occupation at McKeldin Square.
Over the course of the past three weeks, Occupy Baltimore has begun a directly democratic dialogue, and considering their peaceful and respectful assembly, the group requests that the city allow them to maintain this peaceful democratic space, as city government counterparts have in Philadelphia and Washington DC. Representatives of Occupy Baltimore, assisted by the Maryland chapter of the ACLU, are currently in discussion with the Department of Parks and Recreation about possible negotiations on the proposed deadline and the overnight stay limitations. These limitations present a clear concern for the Occupation, which has a complex and pre-existing infrastructure, including dedicated teams for media, food, direct action, outreach, security, and other working groups that require consultation and consideration, as well as physical space onsite.
Occupy Baltimore is committed to maintaining a vibrant, safe space in McKeldin Square as the movement continues to grow an organic infrastructure of democratic representation, arts, culture, and Political debate while still allowing the public to pass through McKeldin Square, and inviting them to join in the occupation and associated activities.
Occupy Baltimore recognizes that their requests are outside of the box for the city's existing permit system, but encourages the city to work alongside peaceful and respectful demonstrators to create a legal space where all voices can be heard.
The Occupation remains hopeful that the City of Baltimore will continue to work with the movement in the coming days and weeks to ensure the continued existence of this peaceful gathering. Participants state, however, that they are closely monitoring police presence in the area as the city's deadline approaches. They encourage supporters to maximize presence in the Square starting today, and continuing throughout the week, should the authorities decide to clear the area on or after the Wednesday, October 26 deadline.
Full text of the letter received by Occupy Baltimore from the City Solicitor, and termed as an "Approved Working Document"
THIS PERMISSION DOCUMENT OUTLINES RULES THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED TO ENSURE THE HEALTH
AND SAFETY OF CITIZENS CURRENTLY USING MCKELDIN SQUARE WITHOUT A PERMIT. IF THESE RULES
ARE FOLLOWED, THE OCCUPY BALTIMORE GROUP WILL NOT BE ARRESTED FOR TRESPASS OR PARK
RULE VIOLATIONS RESULTING FROM THE LACK OF A VALID PERMIT. THE CITY HAS THE RIGHT TO
TERMINATE THESE SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS BASED ON VIOLATIONS AND/OR UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY.
1. No overnight tents and no overnight camping will be allowed except for one tent with up to
two individuals (identity can change) who may remain overnight to watch over the site and any
property, as an “occupier” and night watchmen. All others must leave McKeldin Square area by
midnight, the time that the area is closed to visitors.
2. No open flames or other violations of fire safety requirements. No generators are allowed on
3. Occupiers may not obstruct, in any way, the rights of way in the area.
4. Occupy Baltimore has been given a map detailing the footprint perimeter of their occupied area,
the area where any tents or signs or any set ups may be placed.
5. Occupy group needs to identify a “spokesperson” who will sign the Permission document and
facilitate with its terms and serve as a point of contact. This spokesperson also agrees to keep
City officials advised of any significant population spikes/significant events or issues at the site.
IN GOOD FAITH, THE CITY OF BALTIMORE HAS AGREED TO THE FOLLOWING:
1. City will provide 10 (ten) pop-up tent shelter facilities (at no cost) to provide cover from
inclement weather and locations for “community services” within the Occupy footprint within
the square along the fountain. Occupiers must use these tents and not construct other tents
or structures in this area other than the “night watchmen” tent. Attaching additional materials
(such as tarps) to these pop-up tents is not allowed.
2. One portable toilet may remain on site.
3. City Department of Recreation and Parks will notify Occupy of all prospective permits for the use
of McKeldin Square. Occupy group will be responsible for reaching a space sharing agreement
for day (s) covered in permit, at least 5 days in advance of the permitted activity. If any group
who holds permit for McKeldin Square is not agreeable to space sharing, Occupy will “withdraw”
all set ups from the square for the dates of the permit.
4. Occupy will comply with these conditions by Wednesday, October 26, 2011.