The city of Bloomington extended the deadline for Occupy Bloomington protestors to leave People’s Park downtown from Thursday at noon to Friday at the same time. That move could have been because of legal reasons or because of the city’s desire to maintain good relations with its residents, according to assessments from Bloomington law and public relations experts.
Jim Parham, chief operating officer for the public relations firm Hirons and Company, says the city made a good decision when it extended the deadline to Friday after some of the tents were not taken down by the originally appointed time.
“From a PR standpoint, my advice would be we’ve done really well so far, why would we want to inflame, ignite possible hostilities at the end of what’s been a fairly peaceful process,” Parham says.
He says the city avoided confrontation and maintained favor with Bloomington residents, many of whom have supported the occupation.
“Bloomington has a tradition of allowing freedom of speak and is a fairly liberal community to allow for the honest interaction of communication,” he says.
IU Law Professor Fred Cate says there could also have been some legal reasons for the extension. He says the city could have evicted the Occupy protestors with no notice because they were breaking city regulations but it might also have delayed the eviction out of an “excess of cautiousness.”
“Irrespective of what the specific ordinance says, having deferred eviction for months, the city is smart to provide ample notice,” Cate wrote in an email to Indiana Public Media.
Nearly all the tents had been taken down by noon Friday and there had been no altercations with law enforcement or city officials.