Occupiers unsure about IC permit offer

BY DORA GROTE | OCTOBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Occupiers are still discussing whether to accept the four-month permit to use College Green Park that city officials presented Wednesday night.

Occupy Iowa City members will discuss the decision to obtain a permit for the use of College Green Park at the general assembly tonight.

However, it may be difficult for occupiers to reach a unified decision.

Occupier and Iowa City resident Amanda Murphy is in favor of the permit.

"It's a waste of our time to spend fighting about our right to be here when we could be spending our time and resources working for change," Murphy said.

But Occupy protester Ant Hyde is opposed to the permit.

"I don't think it's right that we are being asked to sign a permit," Hyde said. "They are allowing us to permit our discomfort when our discomfort isn't 'permittable.' "

Hyde said the occupiers are there because they are unhappy, and forcing a permit upon them makes it seem like everything is OK when it is not.

"At this time it's very futile to make things seem like it's OK because we are still being suppressed," Hyde said. "We are still not being allowed to create our own, healthy environments."

City code calls for assemblies in parks to have permits from the city. City officials originally said the Occupy demonstrators didn't need a permit because the law allows for spontaneous demonstrations. However, City Manager Tom Markus and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Moran met with the members of Occupy Iowa City to explain the provisions of obtaining the permit because the event can no longer be considered spontaneous.

"They were operating [under the] spontaneous exemption, but it has pretty much run its course," Markus said.

According to an email obtained by the The Daily Iowan from City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes, Markus and Moran addressed five topics regarding the permit when they talked to Occupy Iowa City organizers. They noted that the city is willing to issue occupiers a permit for four months to use College Green Park, and the permit could be signed by Occupy Iowa City demonstrators as a group.

While meeting with demonstrators, the emails show city officials made it clear the demonstration doesn't reflect any official view of the city and that demonstrators in other cities have signed permits to demonstrate.

One of those cities is Des Moines.

Occupy Des Moines organizers originally wanted to settle in the Statehouse lawn, but law enforcement removed protesters from that spot the first night of the Des Moines occupation. A couple days later, city leaders and activists agreed to move the event to Stewart Square. On Thursday, the city renewed that permit for seven more days.

Markus said the protesters asked for more time to make a unified decision and said "that's perfectly fine." He said a deadline for the acceptance of the permit has not been determined by city officials.

The general assembly will be held in College Green Park at 7 p.m. today.

Reporter Chastity Dillard contributed to this article.

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