Like many people around the country, I was excited to hear about the Occupy Wall Street movement shutting down the main artery of corporate exploitation in the world. I was even more excited when I heard that we were going to have an occupation of Philly! I was excited because it was an opportunity to unite with multitudes of people who agree that it is necessary to challenge corporate and state power. I understood there were serious critiques of the original event, but, after all, we local folks can handle shit in our own city, right?
At least, that’s what I thought.
Birth of an Occupation
Over the course of the past week, I’ve seen the beautiful (if confusing and disorganized) growth of Occupy Philadelphia. Over 1000 people attended the initial meeting to plan the time and location of the occupation. Thousands have streamed in and created a living community. Complete with 2 medical tents, food and snack tents which have successfully fed everyone in need, and various working groups to tackle every aspect of communal life.
City Hall’s main square is an art mecca with a vibrant tent city propped up under the trees of the square complete with street names, artists everywhere producing signs of all varieties, and a burgeoning shantytown of pallet-based homes.
I have attended, contributed, and participated in as much of the broad mass organizing as possible to ensure its success. I wanted this to work and I wanted to do the work necessary to make that happen.
Despite my protests, as well as the protests of nearly all of the native Philadelphians participating in the leadership, the gentrifying suburbanites have established control via police backing.
Subversion of an Occupation
With their own security apparatus working as plainclothes police officers, their own unchecked and private liason with the police (which was temporarily suspended due to mass outcry), their strategic cooperation with police on every level, and their open statement that the police and the city are “our friends” leads one to wonder if this is not just a Democratic Party rally to enable the Mayor’s next term!
Let me be clear about how this started, so that other occupations might avoid this mistake. It all began with the debate for a permit. The “Facilitators” began small in their agenda. They used every General Assembly to argue in favor of getting a permit from the city, using scare tactics like “the Tea Party plans to counter us” to gain sympathy. The majority repeatedly opposed a permit, and this majority shrank when those who felt alienated enough by the repetitive insistence to get a permit just stopped participating and voting in the GA.
Seeking permission is state submission – and we should be even more wary that the city encouraged the acquisition of a permit! Charles Ramsey, the police commissioner, is not your typical commissioner. He’s from D.C. and has routinely abused human and civil rights when he felt necessary. But he is prudent: as long as its non-violent, he’s all about a peaceful demonstration.
D.C., y’all. He’s USED TO THIS! The mayor’s office and the PPD have effectively said, “here you go, kids, have fun with the plaza! Have fun with the homeless! You’ll get bored and go home eventually.”
We can read between the lines. We’re not children, though I cannot say the same for the Facilitators. We have the political and personal maturity to see that when the cops escort our rallies, they prove they are not part of “the 99%” when their hand shifts towards their gun belt.
The 99% and Us
All Philly people wanted was a movement that would take control of Center City and create resistance in the bloodflow of the heart of corporate and government activity in our city. We wanted something similar to the Wall Street occupiers disrupting the flow of all traffic.
Instead, all we’ve got is a giant hang out spot for bored white kids who were too afraid to come help the homeless until they got a thousand people to back them up. That fear is palpable and, even more so, these Liberals are scared by their own shadow! They know the very event they have started is not under their control and, under the false pretense of democracy, they have attempted to hijack it and form a central power organ to avoid dealing with the people’s feelings.
Events have taken a decisive turn in favor of collaboration with the police and the institution of the Facilitators’ own brand of Liberal despotism to defend their intimate connection with the police force. Its time to take action.
Occupy the Occupy
In the interests of liberty and justice – the stated goals of this protest – we must occupy the occupy.
We must resist the Facilitators by forwarding a message that opposes state power and especially the police.
We must be careful not to disrupt the Liberals’ only redeemable work, which is the feeding of the homeless.
We must defend the structures built by our comrades in the pallet shacks.
These are sustainable structures that help people, yet the city has called them ugly and demanded they be torn down. Like the mouthpieces for the state that they are, the Facilitators made the same demand. We refused. Eventually, the city will come with bulldozers. Will the 99% be united then? Or will 99% of these Liberals turn their backs and flee like the cowards they are?
The people of Philadelphia will soon find the answer to that question.
Stay tuned to Marty and Stacy for the overall Philadelphia picture as social change unfolds from every direction!