PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia officials have issued a formal notice that the protest encampment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway must close completely by Friday, July 17.
The city called the action a "last resort" after they say they spent weeks negotiating with the protesters.
"The posting is being made now because the organizers have refused the City’s offers, and because the City is increasingly concerned about public health and safety at the site," read a statement from the city released on Friday.
Dozens of tents have lined the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near 22nd Street for several weeks in protest of a lack of long-term housing for Philadelphia's homeless population.
A spokesperson for the city previously claimed the tent encampments often pose a health and safety threat, and are prohibited on park property.
The city pointed to a number of issues in the negotiation process, including a "lack of clarity on who speaks for the group" and a "shifting list of demands." City officials also say the protesters had made demands for things outside of "its purview."
Prior to next week's closures, officials say services will be offered to those living in the encampment.
“I am disappointed that we are at this point after spending the last four weeks trying to avoid this very scenario,” said Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services. “We respect the right of people to protest peacefully, and fully share the residents’ concerns about the lack of affordable housing. However, these efforts take time and often require approvals from other entities outside of the City, so we are not able to deliver this immediately. We have also been clear that this camp is not a long-term solution to homelessness, and we are concerned about the safety and health of the individuals there. We thank our external partners who have worked with us in this effort, and we thank the neighbors near the Parkway for their patience.”
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