“They already have, actually,” said Derek Cosson, spokesman for the city of Pensacola.
Earlier today, Cosson said a statement would be released shortly explaining the camp’s absence and newly placed metal barricades. The statement has now been scuttled, with the barricades being described as a “miscommunication.”
“The barricades were put up without the knowledge of our city attorney, who did not think it was a good idea,” Cosson said.
The Occupy Pensacola encampment has been on the corner since last year, when it was shuffled off of the city hall lawn. The group is currently involved in a lawsuit against the city, arguing that its First Amendment Rights were violated.
Cosson said that the city had an “informal agreement” with the group that no further action would be taken until the court proceedings were complete. The city is still operating under that arrangement.
“Pending the outcome of litigation,” he said, “we are going to continue the status quo.”
Cosson said that the Occupy encampment emptied out Monday— “presumably to ride out this storm somewhere”—after which time the barricades were erected.
“Our public works staff thought it’d be a good opportunity to put out those barricades,” he said, explaining that such a move had not been run through the appropriate channels.
UPDATE: City Administrator Bill Reynolds this afternoon attributed the barricades to “some over exuberance” of some employees. He said that the employees responsible for the barricades acted out of concern for the aesthetics at city hall.
“The employees have a lot of concern about the appearance of what has essentially become a homeless camp,” Reynolds said.
The administrator did not know when the barricades had been erected.
“As soon as I found out about it I had them removed,” Reynolds said.
The city administrator also clarified that the city did not have an “informal agreement” with Occupy Pensacola, but rather was holding off on further action due to the unresolved court case.