Occupy Philadelphia prepares for cold temperatures
The protesters are intent on staying outside City Hall through the winter
November 10, 2011, 10:00 pm · Updated November 10, 2011, 10:20 pm·
Occupy Philadelphia is intent on staying put in front of City Hall through the winter — meaning that the protest movement is going to have to find a way to combat the falling temperatures.
As of now, some areas and tents have propane heaters. The location and use of the few heaters that protesters have is “based on need, we can’t have people freezing to death … but we are trying to get some electric heaters” in order to spread warmth to more people, occupier Stanley Joseph said.
A few initiatives have been started by the occupiers, including the building of a “warming station” where people can go find relief from the cold. “We should build more of those,” Joseph said.
Another project is looking for wooden skids to put under tents, which are currently on the ground outside of City Hall. Joseph said, “the granite becomes an ice block when it gets cold, [so wooden skids] are the cheapest way and we need to get people off the ground.”
Another obstacle for occupiers in the cold involves city protocol. In Philadelphia, if there is a real feel temperature around or below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, the citywide measure called Code Blue goes into effect. The alert is typically intended to protect the homeless by implementing “Court Ordered Transportation to Shelter,” so that people cannot sleep outside.
People on Penn’s campus, particularly those involved in the OccupyPenn group, have made efforts to help the cause by gathering donations for the campers at City Hall. OccupyPenn member and third-year English graduate student Divya Nair said there was a need for items such as blankets, coats and lanterns — “anything warm and anything useful.”
Nair explained that the graduate students who have expressed solidarity with the movement have set up donation boxes for such items in the Graduate Student Center as well as the English Department main office. “We are encouraging people to donate as much as they can,” she said.
The donation boxes have had success so far, with enough items to make necessary a trip down to City Hall one to two times a week to deliver them.
Occupy Philadelphia has started to think about how best to fundraise in order to buy items that “cannot be donated or are needed immediately when someone can’t wait for it to be donated,” Joseph said, adding that protesters are “starting to look into having fundraising events.”
The cold is a concern for most people associated with Occupy Philadelphia. Occupier Adam Hill explained that there were also ideas being discussed about coming up with a medical system so that people would be identified based on different medical needs in preparation for the temperature drops. This way, the group could keep track of those who are more at risk and prevent major medical problems.
Joseph asked the public to remember, particularly with the looming weather, “We are still looking for donations. Every little bit helps. Now more than ever.”