Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Philly, My First Look

In Philadelphia, the sounds of honking car horns are usually accompanied by a four letter words and obscene gestures. But on this particular day, while standing outside of City Hall, the usual sounds of Philly commuters had a different tone.

Angry drivers weren’t blaring horns to yell at cabbies or out-of-towners who have trouble passing busses. There were no middle fingers raised in anger(at least not while I was watching).

Instead drivers passed by City Hall beeping, and smiling; their fists were raised in a gesture of solidarity.

It was chilling to witness. 

Very few things can bring Philadelphians together: the mummers parade or a winning sports team, but that’s about it. Until this past week when Philadelphia residents joined in a growing movement of occupation, 118 across the country, at last count, I was told by one of the movement’s “unofficial, officials.”

Occupy Philly has taken hold and for those camped out in City Hall, this movement is as real as it gets. The occupiers really are living in tents, they really are getting donations, and they really have some valid arguments.

Official statements released by the members of New York City’s Occupy movement state clearly, the views and stances taken by the group. The most predominant of which is that “corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.”

The Occupy movement also takes issue with the illegal foreclosure process, taxpayer bailouts, inequality and discrimination, the torture of animals, and the poisoning and monopolization of our food supply, the list goes on and on, naming nearly two dozen grievances in all.

Occupy Philly has allowed free speech, in a peaceful setting for residents to voice all kinds of grievances and beliefs. Its given a platform for people to speak on any subject, including the popular 99% stance, to the adoption of Marxism, to the career of Andy Reid, and his future here in Philadelphia.

While the possibility for the spirit of the movement to be muddled and lost amongst the rabble is a possibility, “unofficial, officials” have stated how they haven’t come up against any issues as of yet.

The movement is still in its earliest stages and with a successful weekend under its belt, Occupy Philly organizers plan to stay put as long as it takes. Donations have been coming in, and those who are occupying don’t seem to be going anywhere too soon, but a rainy Wednesday in this week’s forecast will gauge the short-term dedication of the movement’s participants.

While the feelings of dedication and good will permeate the growing, tented community, general organization is still in its infancy. On the other hand, the views expressed by the people occupying Dilworth Plaza are ripe for the picking.

As I continue to cover the events here in Philadelphia, and post my first piece on Occupy Philly, one question stands out in my mind:

Will the Occupy movement come out of its infant stages with the solidarity and organization that could attract the kind of attention that it needs, from lawyers, legislators, and unions, to be a real force in changing the status quo

View the slideshow for a look at the movement and messages from #OccupyPhilly

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