After a sign banning people from sitting on the inner stone walls of Rittenhouse Square popped up last week, politicians and the public are speaking out against it.
A sign warning visitors to the park, which popped up Thursday, is meant to deter "continuous vandalism and marijuana smoking," a spokesperson with the Friends of Rittenhouse group told Billy Penn, which broke the story.
"City officials, Parks and Recreation, [Philadelphia] police and the Friends determined it was in the park's best interest to no longer allow people to sit on the balustrade. Benches throughout the park are provided for people to sit," Jackie Whyte told the news outlet.
The city's Parks and Recreation department backed up Whyte, saying in a statement that the ban is "in response to a recent uptick in vandalism on the historic balustrades, which received nearly $1 million in restoration work just a few years ago."
But the rule in opposition of the decades-old tradition of sitting on the Rittenhouse Square walls has drawn ire, from both the public and from Mayor Jim Kenney.
"Sit where you want," Kenney tweeted from his personal Twitter account Saturday night.
"Regarding Rittenhouse Square, I'm frustrated too. This government is very large and at times things just get by you," he said, closing his message with a peace sign emoji.
Kenney's spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told NewsWorks that the mayor shares concerns with Parks and Recreation and Friends regarding litter, vandalism and smoking, but the mayor "feels this was an overcorrection," adding there will be conversations to explore "more productive ways" to address those concerns.
For now, visitors to the park receive warnings from police. But violators could receive fines in the future.
Several protests – one for sitting, and one for pot smoking – are standing up to the ban, and are planned for this week.
On Tuesday, the "Sittenhouse" sit-in is a lunchtime protest of the ban. Organizers of the event on Facebook wrote "the ban on wall-sitting is a threat to the vibrancy, inclusiveness and diversity of Rittenhouse Square. Philadelphia's public spaces should be open to all Philadelphians."
More than 400 people have RSVP'd to the Facebook event page.
And on Friday, another protest organized by the Pennsylvania Veterans for Medical Marijuana, called "Toke Back the Wall," is bringing pot-smokers together at 4 p.m. to "protect this time honored tradition of smoking weed on that wall."