This movement defies easy definition
By Sarah Mabel Hough
It started slowly, with small groups marching peacefully to City Hall. For a time, the police strangely outnumbered the “Occupiers.”
By 9:30 a.m., though, a large crowd had gathered. The energy was calm, the makeup as diverse as the city. They held handmade signs and talked. Some reflected on Afghanistan, others on joblessness. One quiet, middle-aged man held a thermos in one hand and a sign in the other reading “Bail out the people.”
Journalists whipped out microphones and cameras, asking, in one way or another, What is this about?
There are many answers. On Occupy Philadelphia’s Facebook page, one post read, “We are not Democrats, we are not Republicans. … This is not a left-wing movement, it is a populist movement. We are united as the 99%!” – that is, the vast majority of the population, as opposed to the super rich 1 percent.
I asked a few people what it meant to them. The answers varied but came down to a feeling that everything is “just so wrong,” as one jobless college graduate put it.
Earlier, the organizers had repeatedly urged participants to be respectful of the homeless, commuters, police, and others. Throughout the first day, the crowd changed organically. Some stayed; some went home or to work; still others strolled past, reading the signs as if in an art gallery. Reports on the “protest” proliferated.
I still hesitate to call it a protest, fearing it will be repackaged as something it isn’t for easy definition. From my perspective, Occupy Philadelphia isn’t a single statement against a single entity. It’s something that has been stirring within us for a long time. It’s a peaceful, inclusive outlet for expressing concerns and being heard. It’s a growth spurt in the evolution of humanity.
Crumbling schools, excessive violence, and our transformation into an unemployed nation that’s “made in China” are some of my reasons for occupying Philadelphia. What are yours?
‘Occupy Philadelphia’ protest plans indefinite stay; South Jersey residents plan to attend today
PHILADELPHIA – At this hour, several hundred “Occupy Philadelphia” protesters remain at Dilworth Plaza at the foot of Philadelphia’s City Hall building.
They’ve voiced intentions of remaining there indefinitely.
The local branch of the “Occupy Wall Street” effort going on in New York City and around the country began their sit-in protest here more than 12 hours ago.
Tents have been erected and chants are commonplace, both for communication purposes and as rally cries.
The mass that has gathered in downtown Center City have an ideology aligned with those in New York – that there is a huge economic gap between American’s middle and upper class citizens and government, big business and corporations are to blame.
“If we’ve learned anything, it’s that democracy is difficult,” said Occupy facilitation committee member Larry Swetman, formerly of Atlanta, Ga. and Philadelphia resident for the past year.
Swetman estimated 10 to 15 such “committees” exist for all sorts of purposes regarding protest organization. The occupiers plan to convene again Friday at noon and 7 p.m.
Belmawr resident and high school senior Nickolas Boker plans to arrive at the protest Friday. He told The News in an e-mail late Thursday that he’s from a “poor household, financially, and we’re just about being kicked out of our home.
America doesn’t have to be like this. America can be the prosperous beacon of light was meant to be, but people with nefarious intentions steal from this country,” he continued.
A large majority of the protesters are youth, though some like U.S. Navy veteran R.W. Dennen said he saw the shift toward today’s current political and economic attitude during the Regan era.
Temple University political science Professor Daniel Chomsky said earlier Thursday that these protests are a “long overdue response to the stagnation of incomes for ordinary Americans over a long period.”
When asked what this movement means for the current administration in Washington, he said it is “an indictment of the Obama administration’s failure to seriously confront unemployment, eroding incomes and corporate power.”
Food stations have been set up, police presence remains minimal and groups continued to meet and organize.
A full report will appear in Saturday’s News.