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Protests, speakers at Occupy Philly

Published Nov 2, 2011 10:10 PM

Despite unseasonably cold temperatures, hundreds marched two miles from the University of Pennsylvania to join participants of Occupy Philly outside City Hall on Oct. 28. By 9:30 p.m. the crowd had grown to more than 1,000 people, gathering to hear political activist Angela Davis.

WW photo: Joseph Piette

Davis, who had earlier that day addressed a conference at Penn, drew cheers as she linked Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Philly to Occupy Oakland. She stressed the importance of building a movement that is inclusive, stating, “The unity of the 99% must be a complex unity. Movements in the past have primarily appealed to specific communities — whether workers, students, Black communities, Latino communities, women, LGBTQ, Indigenous peoples, or around specific issues like the environment, food, water, war, the prison industrial complex.”

Davis also raised the need to confront the prison industrial complex and the “unalterable damage prisons and the criminal justice system have inflicted on our communities.” Her call to “decarcerate PA” drew cheers, as did her announcement of growing support for Occupy Oakland’s call for a general strike on Nov. 2.

When cold rain and heavy sleet made walkways too slippery for a planned march on Oct. 29, protesters from Occupy Philly used the nearby subway to travel to Temple University, where former President Bill Clinton was campaigning for the re-election of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Under the theme, “End the Silence,” they challenged the domination of U.S. politics by corporate interests. Organizers decried the current system, which places the “power of campaign contributions over the power of people, that leaves people of color, women, LGBTAQ individuals, workers, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and countless others disenfranchised.” (Occupy Philadelphia media advisory, Oct. 29)

In other events, former political prisoner Alicia Rodriguez explained the history of U.S. colonization of Puerto Rico on Oct 26 before a crowd of some 80 people at Occupy Philly.

On Oct. 27, Diop Olugbala held a press conference in front of City Hall to denounce city officials for refusing to approve a permit for a Black is Back march on Nov. 5. To justify this denial, city officials claim that all available cops are being used to police Occupy Philly. Olugbala is running as an independent candidate for mayor under the name of Wali “Diop” Rahman.

At an Oct. 27 hearing, dozens of community representatives testified against the proposed extension of a center city youth curfew to a citywide curfew, many charging that it will be used mainly against youth of color. Speaking of the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE organization headquarters, Pam Africa, MOVE minister of confrontation, said, “You are the city that dropped a bomb killing 11 men, women and children. You don’t give a [expletive] about children.” The City Council passed the new legislation, although not one person spoke in favor of the repressive bill at the hearing.