Portable toilets outside Woodruff Park, Oct. 21, 2011
ATLANTA -- The city's cost includes the renting and maintenance of a half-dozen portajohns placed on a sidewalk on the east side of Woodruff Park. Mayor Kasim Reed says that, plus police and other services, has raised the city's cost of Occupy Atlanta past $30,000. But Reed isn't necessarily complaining.
"I do happen to know that it would be more costly to arrest them, in all candor, than to have them occupying the park," Reed said.
Members of the group say the city's costs are its business, not theirs.
"The city spent $30,000 that we didn't ask them to spend. So if they take them or keep them, its completely the city's responsibility," said a spokesman.
Reed has signed an executive order allowing Occupy Atlanta to stay in Woodruff Park through November 7.
The mayor says the timeline isn't just about the cost to the city. Occupy Atlanta presents challenges relating to politics and precedent. As a political liberal, Reed is sympathetic. As the city's mayor, he knows his constituents are of a mixed mind.
"I'm on dangerous ground on terms of personally being criticized. Because a future organization could level a criticism that I treated one group differently," Reed said.
"But my position with regard to Occupy Atlanta really has more to do with balancing our city's tradition of respecting and being a tolerant place, versus the right of the people in the community to have quiet. So it is a balancing test."