Protesters disrupted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s “Town Hall” meeting on Sept. 19. Ten minutes into the event at the Philadelphia Art Museum, three banners criticizing cuts in school funding and general assistance, plus the building of new prisons, were unfurled as a third of the audience chanted slogans for seven minutes while police escorted those holding the banners out of the building — one banner at a time. Then, as Corbett’s interview started again, protesters stood up and disrupted his talk every few minutes, raising the pending execution of Terry Williams, the cuts in general assistance, fracking and the other issues, including education cuts.
A groundswell of “boos” erupted whenever Corbett made a particularly unpopular statement. Meeting organizers ended the event a half-hour earlier than its planned 90 minutes when it became clear that Corbett could not answer questions without being shouted down.
The quickly organized coalition behind the disruption included anti-fracking activists, Act-Up, Decarcerate PA, Fight for Philly, and others organizing against the elimination of state sponsored programs for the poor, including general assistance and adult basic health care, and the reactionary, racist Voter ID law. A number of Occupy Philly activists were also on hand.
Afterwards, around 50 people were able to temporarily hold Corbett “hostage” in the indoor parking garage of the museum by blocking the exit ramp for 30 minutes. “See how prison feels!” was yelled towards where Corbett was trapped, before police finally cleared the entrance and escorted the governor’s convoy of two large black SUVs past the demonstrators, who chanted: “Jail Corbett!” and “Who do you protect?! Who do you serve?!” a rhetorical question aimed at the police.