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City officials expect peaceful end to Occupy Iowa City's time in College Green

BY KRISTEN EAST | FEBRUARY 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Though Occupy Iowa City's presence in College Green park is supposed to end at midnight today, members of the organization say plans to proceed are underway.

Iowa City Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said city officials will take no action tonight at midnight — when the permit expires — but city staff will inspect the park Thursday morning.

"[We'll] come in the morning of the 1st and assess the situation," he said. "We'll be prepared to remove any possessions left behind."

Iowa City officials denied Occupy Iowa City a new permit on Feb. 13. City officials told The Daily Iowan the permit renewal was denied for safety reasons. Officials said Occupiers must be out of College Green Park by midnight today. The group's original permit — obtained in October — was for a four-month period.

Yet the movement isn't over just because the group's time in College Green Park has ended. Sean Adams-Hiett, a member of the outreach committee, said Occupy Iowa City members will continue to hold general-assembly meetings on Sundays and Thursdays. The group's website and Facebook page will also be maintained, he said.

Fruin said city officials have been communicating with Occupiers throughout the process, and they expect all occupiers to leave the park with their belongings.

"The Occupy group is very cooperative, and has worked with us on transitioning out," he said. "We've gone up to the park and talked to those there, and we haven't been met with any resistance. We certainly expect things will go smoothly on the 1st [of March.]"

Fruin said city officials will hold items unclaimed at city offices. The city will turn them over to a surplus auction if they are not claimed for an extended time.

Only two people who identified themselves as Occupiers were in College Green Park Tuesday evening packing up their belongings.

One — who refused to give her name — said the group wasn't given an adequate amount of time to leave the park.

But Steve Hoffelt, a member of the Occupy Iowa City outreach team, said the city did give the group enough notice.

"Honestly, I think they did," he said. "We knew that the initial permit was only for four months. We've known for a couple of weeks. We had enough time to file for another permit."

Occupy Iowa City did not seek to appeal the city's decision to deny the renewed permit.

Fruin said city staff notified occupiers of the termination through phone calls, emails and putting notes on tents.

"The communication has been different through the entire process because there's no one point of contact with the Occupy [Iowa City] group," Fruin said. "[But] we have identified some members of the organization that have been very cooperative."

Adams-Hiett said Occupiers will leave before the deadline, and he didn't know of any plans for the group to wait until midnight today to leave.

Though Hoffelt said he doesn't think occupiers will have trouble leaving by midnight, he hopes Iowa City police are fair in how they enforce the permit's termination.

"I really hope that they are [reasonable], especially for the people who don't have anywhere else to go," he said.


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