According to a communique received from a protester with Occupy Fort Lauderdale, the group will be kicked off of City Hall property (100 N. Andrews Ave.) at 5 p.m. today.
The Occupiers find it reprehensible that the city would do such a thing on Thanksgiving Eve, when most people are busy with holiday celebrations and their legal counsel -- Ron Gunsberger, an attorney with the county property appraiser's office and son of Broward County Mayor Sue Gunzburger -- happens to be out of town.
An email making the rounds among Occupiers says:
"Today they they posted a New Rule/Regulation telling the people of Occupy Fort Lauderdale that their belongings will be thrown in the garbage at 5 pm tomorrow and if they are not holding their protest signs in their hands, personally, and do not take down their storage tents and sun shades with mosquito nets that they will be arrested for trespassing."
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler and City Manager Lee Feldman could not be reached around midnight. People attending Tuesday's Light Up Las Olas festival on Fort Lauderdale Beach noted that the mayor was at least two hours late for that event, perhaps due to these developments. A communications officer at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said they would not have any information until morning.
The protesters say they have managed to remain at City Hall until now by maintaining that the land is a public space but technically not a park. (Sleeping in parks overnight is not allowed.) Last night, however, protesters say, the city announced it had created a rule for its Policy and Standards manual. The new rule permits constitutionally protected activities in the space but adds new time restrictions: It will be closed between 2 and 5 a.m.
The email goes on to say that "Issuing this new regulation is a direct attack on our rights to peaceably assemble at a traditional location intended for expressing free speech. We are just honest, hard working individuals who want to gather together to generate solutions accessible to everyone and inspire all to participate in a process of DIRECT DEMOCRACY not a process of committee meeting failures paid for by millions of dollars from corporate lobbyists. We would do it with suits and ties on and with well made signs fastened to the inside of the walls of climate controlled multi million dollar buildings but because we have no money we choose to do it outdoors while sitting on camping chairs and because we have no political ties to the two party oligarchy we can't petition to get a room inside of the City Hall to have our working group and general assembly meetings like Sunshine Republicans do."
Some Occupy Fort Lauderdale members intend to risk arrest and stay at the site. The group is asking people sympathetic to their cause to come to City Hall by 5 p.m. to join the protest. They add: "Bring cameras." See their Facebook page for updates.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.