Richmond mayor meets with Occupy Richmond - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond mayor meets with Occupy Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Mayor Dwight Jones met with members of Occupy Richmond today at City Hall.

It was the first time the mayor sat down with the group, and they discussed issues of homelessness, poverty, and first amendment rights. The 40 minute meeting was closed to the public.

The end where everyone gets up to shake hands and smile was the only part of the meeting our cameras were allowed to see.

We're told they didn't talk about Occupy Richmond camped out next door to the mayor's home. They also didn't discuss where the group can be allowed to congregate without getting kicked out.

However, both sides say, it was a good meeting.

"I think it was a very amicable meeting and I think we had a very good dialogue," said Mayor Jones.

"We have acknowledged on both sides that there is attempt to make a change. I feel like right now we are in different positions to go forth together but we do recognize there are some similarities that we share," said protestor, Q Black.

Similarities like fighting hunger and lowering homelessness in the city. The mayor even extended an invitation to work together.

"I issued an invitation to one of their members to join my anti-poverty commission, also invited them to look at our homeless report that was just issued and make comment on it," said Jones.

But the real goal the six representatives of Occupy Richmond wanted to accomplish with the mayor was to discuss their right of freedom of speech.

"We specifically wanted to talk about the first amendment so we weren't really talking about homelessness. It did keep coming back up but that was not our special goal at this time," said Clair Tuite.

So whether or not they take up on the mayor's offer to join his anti-poverty commission, Tuite says, she's glad they got to sit down with the mayor.

The mayor also said the law is firm on their terms of encampment. Protestors would have to get at least 5 council members to sign off on changing any ordinances. So, in the meantime protestors say they'll stay where they're welcome...next door to the mayor's house.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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