Perseverance Park will no longer be home to 24 hour protestors. At a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency , who owns the park, will now have the right to call on police to remove anyone who sets up camp on the property. Perseverance Park has been home to the Occupy Syracuse protestors since October.
Mayor Stephanie Miner had allowed occupy protestors to set up tents in Perseverance Park but the Occupy encampment on South Salina Street was dismantled by police on January 18th. Speaking with protestors at a meeting on Tuesday, Miner said the privilege ended when inspections by the Syracuse Fire Chief showed the occupy encampment wouldn't follow safety guidelines.
"He came back and said we had found propane heaters, propane tanks and propane gases, took pictures of them and had to seize them," said Miner.
Miner added that the leadership of Occupy Syracuse failed to live up to multiple agreements she had made with them.
The tents and sleeping bags were removed from the park but protestors have stayed on site 24 hours a day with just chairs and tables.
Perseverance Park is owned by the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency. On Tuesday afternoon, Miner and the agency's board voted to put rules in place that would treat it like any other city park. Miner said it will be closed from dusk to dawn and protestors will have to leave every night.
Some protestors understood why the city needed to put rules in place but felt the Occupy Syracuse movement had been unfairly targeted.
"They can take our tents, they can take our spot but they can't take our motivation, our cause," said protestor Aaron Williams.
The park may close but under federal law, the protesters can remain on the sidewalk 24 hours a day as long as they don't obstruct it. Several protestors at the site on Tuesday evening said they planned to stay on the sidewalk every night so their message would continue to get out.
"We'll definitely rise above it. I mean, when they took down our tents they thought that would be the end of Occupy Syracuse but we came back. And they think that by adding a few more stipulations and rules that they'll take us down - but no -we're going to come back. We did it once, we'll do it again," said protestor Jeremy Bailey.
It's not clear when police will actually enforce the park's hours. Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said he will give occupy protestors at least 24 hours notice before closing the park.
The Occupy Syracuse group released a statement calling this an "attack on free expression and the First Amendment rights of Occupy Syracuse." The group says it will continue its protests, but may have to move out onto the sidewalk.
The Occupy encampment on South Salina Street was taken down after the city claimed the tents were not safe and were a fire hazard.