At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Reed says he sympathizes with the protesters, and given Atlanta's reputation as the cradle of the modern civil rights movement, it would not sit well if the protesters were removed from the park in the week prior to the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, which is set for Sunday.
Reed said there had been a lot of complaints from downtown area residents about the protesters, and particularly in terms of noise past 11 p.m. from the protesters.
Earlier today, Occupy Atlanta held a news conference at the downtown greenspace to note the group's disappointment after the mayor told the Atlanta City Council and the press that he'd met with protesters and been sent formal demands.
Tim Franzen, a member of Occupy Atlanta's media committee, said the group had not met with Reed and submitted no demands to him or anyone else. They've invited the mayor to spend the night at the park to meet the crowd. (A spokesman for the mayor tells CL in an email that the dispute was caused by crossed lines of communication: "The Mayor was told the group had formal demands and he commented to the AJC about it; the group actually did not formally send them.")
He read from a statement: "We are committed to nonviolence. And we are committed to occupy this park. We are willing to put our bodies on line."
UPDATE, 4:46 p.m. Franzen says protesters have no comment at this time. If they have a statement, it will be read at the group's already planned news conference tomorrow at 11 a.m.
UPDATE, 5:31 p.m. Mayor Kasim Reed says in a statement:
For several days, the group Occupy Atlanta has staged a protest in Robert W. Woodruff Park. As Mayor, I am proud of the City of Atlanta’s heritage as the “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.” Many of our most esteemed leaders — visionaries such as Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressman John Lewis and Rev. Joseph Lowery, all recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — fought for civil and human rights and played a vital role in changing our nation for the better through peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations. I, along with many Atlantans, will travel to Washington, D.C. this weekend to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his extraordinary impact not only on our nation, but the entire world. At the same time, I am committed to protecting the public and ensuring that the laws of the city are respected. I will not allow public safety to be jeopardized in any way by the protesters. So far, all of their actions have been peaceful and nonviolent. Therefore, at 5 p.m. today, I issued an Executive Order that allows Occupy Atlanta to legally remain in Woodruff Park until the adjournment of the Atlanta City Council meeting on Monday, October 17, 2011.
Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Mayor Kasim Reed's statement and comments from his spokeswoman and Franzen.
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