'Occupy Raleigh' protesters not allowed to camp behind City Hall
Posted November 8, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Occupy Raleigh protesters hoping to set up a permanent base behind City Hall will not be allowed to do so, a city committee decided Tuesday.
About 200 protesters attended a City Council meeting last week, asking permission to set up the base so they could camp, sleep, eat and have a portable bathroom.
Raleigh's Law and Public Safety Committee nixed the group's request, citing concerns about security, cost, noise, potential crime and setting a precedent of changing the city's policy, which does not allow camping on city property.
"In the past few years, we've enacted laws to prevent sleeping in the parks, because we had a large homeless population sleeping in the parks," said Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin.
The protesters, who've been praised by police for their relative peacefulness compared with other cities, were disappointed.
"I'm not the only one feeling a sense of betrayal by the government," said Michael Davitt.
Joseph Huberman said he thinks the council made the decision out of fear.
"I think it was fear, fear about what would happen in the future, fear about what's happening other places," he said.
In the end, city leaders agreed to help the group find a spot on private property.
"I think we should help, and we already are," said Councilman John Odom. "I think our rules and regulations allow what they're trying to do to come across. It just doesn't allow it 24/7."
WRAL News has learned that Mayor-elect Nancy McFarlane is working behind the scenes to try to help the protesters secure a private parking lot on Hillsborough Street.
McFarlane said Tuesday that she cannot reveal the name of the private property owner she has been negotiating with. However, she is hoping to have a spot for the group by next Tuesday's council meeting.
Since the demonstrators began their occupation outside the State Capitol about three weeks ago, 28 people have been arrested, Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said last week. Still, he added, the protest has caused "very few problems" overall.