Over the weekend, Occupy Philadelphia protesters transformed the western end of City Hall into their own one-level office building.
A set of white booths greets the protest visitor, two for general information and one piled with books, meant to keep visitors informed and free for anyone to take.
To the right of that, a small city of twenty tents neatly lines the edge of City Hall proper, vacant until overnight protesters crawl in to sleep.
Spread across Dilworth Plaza are medic and tech booths, where medical volunteers attend to anyone who might need aid and where organizers kept their Facebook and Twitter profiles regularly updated. Nearby, there are food and comfort booths and a table strewn with flyers, set up by the Food Not Bombs movement.
Support from local community
“We’ve seen an overwhelming amount of donations,” said Kayla, a volunteer at the food station. From behind her sat dozens of cardboard boxes, loaves of bread and plastic utensils peaking over the top. She pointed to a pallet of Poland Spring water bottles 10 feet away from her, “Some guy from a [Poland Springs] truck just came and said, ‘Here, leave a couple cartons, and take the rest,’” she explained. The Occupy Philly Facebook group advertised that “Food continues to be distributed 24-hours a day.”
Since the Occupy Philly protests began on Thursday, the movement has received an overwhelming amount of donations to help keep it running.
Sunday night, Occupy Philly partnered with local pizzeria, Jake’s Pizza, to generate pizza donations. Donators could call Jake’s Pizza, order a pie or two and have the pizza delivered to the Occupy Philly food tent.
And, like their counterparts in New York, Occupy Philly now has a book table, where visitors can pick up presidential biographies (Ronald Reagan’s is a favorite), political non-fiction and historical novels, all collected and donated and free to read.
A dry-erase board resting next to the People’s Mic lists “Today’s Education Schedule”: At 3 p.m., “Vacant Lot Transformation with Philly Food Forests;” at 4:30 p.m., “Intro to Anarchism.” The day’s event ends at 9 p.m., with a film viewing of Tout va Bien, followed by a “discussion at City Hall.”
“The way the sign-up is working now,” explained Peter Collopy, who is a part of the education committee organizing these events, “anyone who wants to do something or lead a discussion can sign up.” The education system works very much like the rest of Occupy Philly – committees set up the infrastructure, usually via email listservs and Google Docs and then individuals step up to put things in action.
Conversation is the name of the game at the Occupy protests. “Right now, I’m just talking to people, finding what is going on with everything … having conversations about what this means,” explained College junior Meghna Chandra.
College freshman Brendan van Gorder spent a Friday late night at City Hall, soaking in the protest. “We’re talking [about] the direction of the movement. … It’s not set in stone in Philadelphia … and we’re trying to find a banner we can all get under.”
Danny D’Amo, who would be a sophomore now, dropped out of Eastern Mennonite University earlier this year. “I was paying the tuition myself — my parents aren’t involved — and it was just too much,” he said. He and his brother set up shop at City Hall Friday night to see what’s going on. Since then, he’s befriended a Chinese man who came to City Hall, Mr. Lau, exchanging gestures and wordless conversations, because Mr. Lau doesn’t speak English. D’Amo’s brother, Tomas, also came to share thoughts. “My brother is involved in the DREAMActivist organization [which deals with undocumented youth],” D’Amo said, and there is a DREAMActivist presence at Occupy Philly.
The core of Occupy Philly lies in its General Assembly meetings, which happen at noon and 7 p.m. every day. The meetings are another place fostering discussion. This is when the organizers and the protesters convene to run through what’s going on, what needs to be planned for the next day and where protest-wide decisions are put to a vote.
Penn students have visited Occupy Philly throughout the weekend. A number of Student Labor Action Project students dropped by the protests on Friday evening. A group of about 70 Penn faculty members signed on to a solidarity statement in support of the Occupy protests.
On Wednesday, Occupy Philly plans to march to a nearby Wells Fargo to present a bill to its management. Later that afternoon, the protesters will hold a “Decarcerate Pa. Rally.”Comments powered by Disqus
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