As I reported last night, more than 1,000 activists packed into the Arch Street United Methodist Church to decide where and when to Occupy Philly in solidarity with the booming Occupy Wall Street protests against corporate greed and financial exploitation.
Occupy Philly begins Thursday, October 6 at 9am. City Hall.
And a note from Kathryn Hinchey (k[DOT]hinchey@gmail[DOT]com), who is preparing to help protesting families and children:
Parents bringing their kids to the protest should be sure to check in with us to get wristbands to keep the kids safe in case of emergency or separation. We really want to stress the importance of parents knowing their protest rights and making sure their kids do too. We will be providing a safe space for parents and kids to play, relax, and talk about their role in the protest. We are also be planning a bunch of family friendly events for the weekend that we will tell parents about.
We need things like books, toys, blankets for kids to sit on. Blank stickers to write emergency contact info and stick on parents and kids. Any help getting the word out would be amazing!!!
Send your personal testimonies and photos to daniel[DOT]denvir@citypaper[DOT]net and we will post them over the coming weeks--or months?
Follow me on Twitter @DanielDenvir for Occupy Philly coverage.
You can also read my earlier interview with one of the organizers.
More than 1,000 activists packed into the Arch Street United Methodist Church to decide where and when to Occupy Philly, in solidarity with the booming Occupy Wall Street protests against corporate greed and financial exploitation in New York.
People split up into small groups to discuss where and when to occupy, and made a decision: Occupy Philly begins Thursday, October 6 at 9am. City Hall.
Send your personal testimonies and photos to daniel[DOT]firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them over the coming weeks--or months?
Follow me on Twitter @DanielDenvir for Occupy Philly coverage.
You can also read my earlier interview with one of the organizers.
Justin Harrison works at Verizon as a splicing technician, and is a unit secretary for Communications Workers of America (CWA), Local 1300. He is one of many Philadelphians working to organize Occupy Philly, which has a planning meeting scheduled for tonight at 6:30 at the Arch Street United Methodist Church
What is Occupy Philly?
I don’t think that I can speak for Occupy Philly. I’m not sure that anybody can.
My impression as someone who has tried to help organize it is that Occupy Philly is a burgeoning movement of people who are tired of Wall Street’s domination of our lives and telling us what to do. They’re concerned about jobs, they’re concerned about rich people not paying taxes, they’re concerned about the environment, they’re concerned about war. They see the occupation of Wall Street as a continuation of these issues.
In New York, they’re occupying Wall Street. In DC, they plan to occupy the the infamously lobbyist-ridden K Street. Will Occupy Philly be Philadelphian in some particular way?
The location hasn’t been picked yet. I think that Philly vs. New York, Philly is overwhelmingly a working class town. There’s been a strong consciousness to reach out into the communities. North, south, east, west, it’s the same stuff: jobs, housing, food and education. We don’t have Wall Street to occupy, but Philadelphia has a special flavor of its own.
Is Occupy Wall Street a progressive response to the right-wing Tea Party? Or is it something completely different?
I think that Occupy Wall Street is filling a vacuum that could have and should have been filled by the left. For example, the AFL-CIO. A lot of us feel that they dropped the ball in Wisconsin this spring [when there were weeks of mass protests against Governor Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights]. People came out in the streets and occupied the capitol, but AFL-CIO put it into the Democratic Party and elections.
I’ve been saying look, we need to pay attention to this. They’re doing stuff that we could have been doing and should have been doing. And we should help out, and we can learn from it.
On the right, the Tea Party’s an expression of the vacuum. And with Occupy Wall Street, most people would identify as leftists.
Many, including some on the left, have criticized Occupy Wall Street for not having a clear set of demands. If there isn't a program, how do you deal with all the Ron Paul types talking about the gold standard and abolishing the Federal Reserve? Libertarians are for letting corporations do whatever they want--so how do they fit into this?
I don’t think they’re overwhelming--but they’re there. If they’re gonna’ participate, they’re gonna’ participate.
As a socialist, I believe overall that it’s a weakness because a movement is stronger if it has demands that it can put forward. The New York group released a statement; and it’s a pretty strong critique. Some say it’s not anti-capitalist, but that’s how I read it. You have a whole new layer of new activists, and they’ll need time to sort things out. I don’t think there’s a problem with having time for discussion. No one group should be able to dictate how things should be.
You work at Verizon and just finished one of the largest strikes in recent history. Does Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Philly relate to what you were fighting for there?
Absolutely. The unions have a role in defending the interests of the working class, and not just their own members. Unions are strongest when they reach out and speak socially. That’s how we got education, the 8-hour day, and the weekend in this country. Unions in their best moments have always been concerned about clean water, education and public services.
The stronger the working class movement as a whole is, and the stronger the unions are, the better able we are to defend ourselves. It’s a continuation from Wisconsin this spring. The bosses and the ruling class are emboldened and on the offensive. They’re trying to take it out on the people who work for 8 dollars an hour at Wal-Mart, and they’re trying to take it out on our pensions. We’re seeing a unified attack by Wall Street against our people: against unions, against public services, against public education, against the fabric of working class life in the United States that comes out of the New Deal, through the middle class lifestyle of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Do you think that Occupy Wall Street, come 2012, will impact the presidential campaign?
Hard to say. It’s a year away. I think that the Democratic Part will probably try to ride the wave a little bit, maybe try to move in. I think that’s something we’ll try to guard against. But that’s still an open book. Right now there’s other stuff to deal with: the congressional super committee is meeting this fall and may push cuts to Medicare and Social Security. So that could be another fight.
Follow me on Twitter @DanielDenvir
Today, President Barack Obama is coming to Philly, where at least three groups are planning to greet him with a protest. Two of them are liberal — which is an interesting footnote in a larger story about how some liberals are growing more and more disillusioned with Obama, especially over issues like immigration, war and financial reform.
AIDS activists ACT UP Philly will be rallying against Obama, who is coming to Philly to fundraise, due to anticipated cuts in HIV/AIDS funding. (The group will also be protesting against Mayor Michael Nutter — who is expected to join Obama at a fundraiser at the Hyatt at the Bellevue — to demand funding for housing for people with AIDS.)
DREAM activists — who organize on behald of undocumented immigrant students — will rally for their own cause, as well to shake a fist at the federal government's Secure Communities program and its deportation of local Cambodians (whose experience was recently written about by City Paper).
And the Independence Hall Tea Party Association will be giving a finger to the "Obama economy," and possibly "showcase the unemployed" — which, they note on their Facebook page, is a "[lesson] learned from the left."
Should be interesting to see them side-by-side.
On Thursday, shortly after 5 p.m., Maria “Fernanda” Marroquin stood in front of Sen. Pat Toomey’s district office at 1628 John F. Kennedy Boulevard and declared herself an undocumented U.S. citizen.
It wasn’t the first time for the 21-year-old, and it certainly won’t be the last, she said.
Marroquin was one of the organizers behind the vigil honoring the “Georgia 7,” as some call it, the group of seven undocumented citizens in their 20s arrested Tuesday in Atlanta, near Georgia State University. One of them was Marroquin’s sister, also named Maria.
She decided to take a stand for us...for all undocumented youth...so that they could come out of the shadows and finally declare that they’re undocumented," Marroquin said of her sister, a 23-year-old co-founder of DreamActivist.org’s Pennsylvania chapter. The group is pushing for passage of the "DREAM Act," which would allow conditional permanent residency to illegal immigants who came to the country as children and have graduated high school.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the badass AIDS activist group ACT UP, who will do literally anything get arrested, storm the New York Stock Exchange, sing morbid carols outside of Mayor Michael Nutter's house to get their way.
Curious about what their legendary protests look like in person?
They're outside of City Hall right now, in hopes of pushing for the Mayor to provide $2 to $4 million in funding for housing for people with HIV/AIDS ... and they're doing something dubious with alarm clocks, fog horns and noisemakers.
|Courtesy of City Kitties|
Last month, a massive fire engulfed the Windermere Court Apartments, leaving many residents suddenly homeless. But humans weren't the only ones to suffer in the inferno â kitties, too, have been put in harm's way. According to cat activists in West Philadelphia, some cats are still alive and trapped in the building, which will soon be demolished.
"Despite obvious signs of life inside, no one took action â not the owners, not L&I, not the fire marshal, not the insurance investigators who all had access to the building," said Eli R. Green, from City Kitties, in an e-mail. "Just two days after this disaster, fire fighters said there was nothing more they could do and no possibility that cats could have survived."
According to City Kitties, a West Philly cat rescue, the city won't let the cat activists in, citing that the doors are sealed and that's that. "Meanwhile, the owners are moving forward with demolition, knowing full well that there are still pets inside!" said Green.
So the cat activists are holding a rally this Saturday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m., across from the Windemere Court Apartments at 48th and Walnut streets, to put pressure on the city to save the animals. Perhaps these kitties have nine lives yet!
In this week's issue, I wrote about Mout Iv (pictured), a local Cambodian refugee who is awaiting deportation in York, Pa. because of a crime he committed 12 years ago, to a country he hasn't seen since he was 2 years old. This is increasingly happening to other Cambodian refugees like Iv throughout Philly, and the Cambodian community has been active in protesting this, having held four rallies in the last two months. There will be yet another rally today from 5 to 7 p.m., at Thomas Paine Plaza (1400 JFK Blvd.).
"The recent ICE focus on detaining and removing people ingrained in local Philadelphia neighborhoods has created hysteria and outrage within the community," says Mia-lia Kiernan, a volunteer for Cambodian activist group One Love Movement, in a press release. "The community is demanding legislative change, support from local elected officials to stop the injustice happening in their districts, and the release of the men currently detained at York."
|Courtesy of Pam Zimmerman|
Remember Park(ing) Day, that whimsical time of year when bikers, architecture students, nonprofit workers, urban planners and other assorted car critics take over parking spots around the city in order to reveal what a world with a few less automobiles might be like?
I wrote about it in 2008, when it first took place in Philly:
The first Park(ing) Day took place in San Francisco in 2005. People were encouraged to claim a parking space, and cover it with bikes, grass or anything that wasn't a car, and pay the meter. The point was to legally demonstrate that automobiles dominate too much public land, and that it should be redistributed to parks, bike lanes and vegetation.
"In most cities, 70 percent of outdoor space is devoted to cars. But what makes a city great culture, diversity, walkability has nothing to do with a car," says Pam Zimmerman, the organizer of Park(ing) Day in Philly.
Zimmerman just e-mailed The Clog to let us know that Park(ing) Day will happen again, on Sept. 17, with takeovers in Center City, North Philly, Southwest Philly, Germantown, Northern Liberties and University City. Here's a list of the participants so far:â¢ Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
â¢ Community Design Collaborative
â¢ Philadelphia City Planning Commission
â¢ Philadelphia Water Department
â¢ Pennsylvania Planning Association â Southeast Chapter
â¢ Germantown Community Connection
â¢ City Lights Network / Southwest CDC (Southwest Philadelphia)
â¢ Planning Collective
â¢ Arch Street Methodist Church
â¢ University of Pennsylvania â Penn Design
â¢ University of Pennsylvania â Urban Transit Group
â¢ Southwest Community Development Corporation / City Lights
â¢ SMP Architects
â¢ Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects
â¢ PostGreen Development
â¢ Interface Studio
â¢ âFree Books Parkâ in Northern Liberties
|Courtesy of Royal Meats|
Let's review why, in all likelihood, tonight's protest against the federal lawsuit challenging Arizona's new illegal immigration policy will be completely nuts: It's at Geno's (at 6 p.m.). The governor of Arizona is gonna be there. So is Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, aka the author of Arizona's illegal immigration bill. (If you're not already aware, Pearce is a real gem of a man. He's friend to white supremacist J.T. Ready and sponsored a bill that would bar students at Arizona universities from creating groups based at all on race, like the Black Business Students Association or Native Americans United.) Our own state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who's introduced an illegal immigration bill modeled after Arizona's, will be there, too. Plus members of the Philadelphia Tea Party will make an appearance.
And of course, as we all know, Geno's is in a neighborhood full of Mexican, Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants, among others. We haven't heard about any counter-protests being planned which would certainly up the crazy factor but if you have, let us know.
Just sayin', you might want to be there just to see what goes down or not be there, for that matter.
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