Hartford city officials announced Wednesday that Occupy Hartford protesters will not be allowed to stay in tents overnight but can raise “pop up event canopies” with the proper permits, according to a short statement.
The decision came after talks between members of the Occupy Hartford group, city officials and Hartford Police Chief Darryl Roberts Tuesday “to discuss freedoms under the First Amendment balanced with public health and safety concerns.”
Some protesters stayed in tents Tuesday night after a temporary decision by the city council allowed them to be set up. The group was notified of the decision via text message from Councilman Luis Cotto shortly after it voted to abide by a city order not to set up the tents. On Wednesday morning there were still a handful of tents in Turning Point Park on the corner of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street.
Sarah Barr, the city’s director of communications, said the discussions over the protests were still ongoing and the camps set up by the demonstrators will be monitored by inspectors and city officials.
“We’re not moving anyone out right now. We’re respecting the freedom of speech,” she said.
JoAnne Bauer, a member of the group who has been emailing press updates, said the fact that the city allowed the tents to remain at the park was seen as a signal of cooperation.
“There was a sense that what happened yesterday was a small victory in an ongoing discussion,” she said.
Many demonstrators were happy their occupation movement hasn’t been met with a harsh police response, as has occurred in other cities, Bauer said.
“It’s great that the city of Hartford is willing to stand on the side of the people and work with us to keep our occupation safe and secure when other cities have not,” Paul J. Comeau said in a statement from the group.
But other protesters view their ability to camp out in the tents as an integral part of the movement. The group’s legal team is working with city officials and trying to determine whether prohibiting demonstrators from staying in the tents is a violation of their First Amendment rights, she said.
“Some people are pretty determined to stay in the tents,” she said.