Photo: Laura Goldman
I stopped by the Occupy Philadelphia protests in Dilworth Plaza, next to City Hall and across from the Ritz Carlton Hotel.The more than 600 protesters at 11 a.m. were sharing space with the homeless people that typically stay there. They were demonstrating against Congress, bank bailouts, the Troy Davis execution, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, healthcare, and the Supreme court Citizens United decision.
My favourite signs were “Wall Street is Dog Meat,” “When Did Socialism Became a Dirty Word?” “Do You Feel The Trickle Down?’ and “Phire the Phat Man,” which referred to Eagles Football Coach Andy Reid. Police presence was not overwhelming. The mostly white, young crowd was entertained by a pick-up band consisting of a bass, trumpets, guitar and drums.
One enterprising lawyer could not resist the opportunity to capitalise on the protests. He hired workers to carry signs directing people to a website if they were disaffected stock brokerage clients.
They should be there all night. Unlike the city of Seattle, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter had agreed to let them sent up a tent city in a designated area.
The media has portrayed the protesters as unemployed and estranged from society. I did not find that. Most of the people that I interviewed had a decent job and were taking a personal or vacation day. Quite a few were licensed healthcare professionals that worked at local hospitals.
Well-known African American activist Michael Coard and Jeremy Burton, the education and community services coordinator of the Philadelphia regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission were two of the lawyers that I talked to.