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Occupy Syracuse protesters told to vacate Syracuse park by 8am

Occupy Syracuse protesters
Occupy Syracuse protesters

The Occupy Syracuse encampment has 8:00am this morning to clear out of Perseverance Park in Downtown Syracuse because of public safety concerns over the use of propane and other heating devices.  Occupiers like John Gray believe City Hall wants them gone for other reasons.

"They want to shut us down because Stephanie Miner runs on rich people," said Gray. "You run a campaign, you run a campaign run by rich folks. She's having a dinner in a few days where someone has to pay $1,000 to have cocktails with her. That's a problem."

Miner supports the order of Syracuse Fire Chief Mark McLees for occupiers to leave. He says there's nothing political about it, suggesting some of the occupiers don't understand the safety concerns.

"What they consider to be safe and what I consider to be safe are two different things," said Chief McLees. "Their actions and their behavior with gas fired appliances, whether it be heating or cooking or candles or sterno is not safe. Their opinion, the fact that they continue to do this shows that they think it's ok to do this."

McClees says the Fire Department began warning Occupiers about the dangerous heating items January 8th, but the protesters say those guidelines were unclear. Occupiers say they've gotten rid of all the offending devices and want to apply for the proper permits, but the city won't let them.

Gray says he's willing to be arrested, to make a point about the rich having too much input in Syracuse's politics.

"It's our constitutional right to peacefully assemble and that's what we're down here doing," said Gray."We want a dialogue. We want the people of this city to have a voice, as opposed to just the rich in this city having a voice. No one in leadership wants that to happen because they're all part of the economic system that put them there."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.