Penn prepares for Eric Cantor protesters
Protesters may arrive at Huntsman Hall as early as 9 a.m.
October 21, 2011, 1:03 am·
Friday afternoon, an estimated 500 to 1,000 protesters will stand outside Huntsman Hall while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) speaks to the Penn community about income inequality in his Wharton Leadership Lecture.
“We think this is actually going to get national media attention,” said Jamie Mondics of Keystone Progress, an advocacy organization and one of several groups helping organize the Cantor protest.
Mondics estimates that protesters will arrive as early as 9 a.m., gathering outside the Locust Walk entrance of Huntsman. “We had originally wanted to do it on Walnut, which is public,” she said, “but then we were told that we have permission from Penn security to move it to campus.”
The Division of Public Safety issued a traffic advisory for the hours between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. today in anticipation of the protesters.
“[DPS], in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department is increasing our presence in order to ensure a safe visit for Representative Eric Cantor and the [protesters],” DPS spokeswoman Stef Karp wrote in an email.
Occupy Philadelphia, the Occupy Wall Street offshoot currently in its second week at City Hall, has been reaching out to Penn students to make 60-second speeches at the protest Friday.
“It’s just one minute explaining why, as a Penn student, [you’re] representing Occupy Philadelphia,” explained Anne Gemmell, a Philadelphia region schoolteacher and a member of Occupy Philadelphia’s direct action committee. “A lot of Penn students are not all [part of the] 1 percent, and even if you are the 1 percent, it doesn’t mean you’re against the 99 percent,” Gemmell said.
Lee Veeraraghavan, a third-year Ph.D. student in the School of Arts and Sciences, will be at the rally tomorrow. “I think it’s actually really fitting that the occupation in Philadelphia has come to this,” she said, pointing to the “collusion of both political parties in the country for corporate interests … of which the Wharton School is symbolic.”
Veeraraghavan, who teaches a world music and culture class, noticed that her students don’t really believe in the efficacy of the Occupy Philadelphia movement and tomorrow’s protest. She asked her students what their thoughts on the protest was, and most responses were along the lines of, “I don’t know what people think protesting is going to change.”
“That was a lesson in my own naivete,” Veeraraghavan reflected. “All of my students are bright, thoughtful and probably have very bright futures in front of them. I hadn’t realized how more confident Penn students are compared to other university students in their generation.”
According to Mondics, the protest event has secured a number of speakers, including Pedro Rodriguez of the National Campaign to Stop Congress from Cutting Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, senior citizens and one of Rep. Cantor’s constituents who is coming from Virginia to join the protest.
The Eric Cantor Protest Facebook event is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. “The real rally is going to start when [Rep. Cantor] starts speaking,” Mondics said.
Other than Keystone Progress and Occupy Philadelphia, groups at the rally include the Philadelphia AFL-CIO union, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and the Center for American Progress.