Occupying In the Shadow of Frank Rizzo
The people, unfortunately, are still very ignorant, and are kept in ignorance by the systematic efforts of all the governments, who consider this ignorance, not without good reason, as one of the essential conditions of their own power.
It was 10:30 pm on Dilworth Plaza, the concrete apron around Philadelphia City Hall that’s home for over 300 tents in the Occupy Philadelphia movement. The air was clear and the temperature was pleasant.
Occupiers collected in clusters, talking, some smoking and drinking out of cups. A tall, good-natured African American man performed a spoken-word dance routine before an audience of 15 people. People were still tabling the Information Tent and some were inside the Media Tent doing official Occupation work. There was not a cop in sight.
“We need to march in solidarity with the people of Oakland!” a young woman announced using a microphone. She referred to the war-zone-style police assault on the Occupy Oakland encampment the night before, where an Iraq veteran member of Veterans For Peace had been shot in the head by a police projectile; he was still unconscious and in critical condition in an Oakland hospital.
A crowd began to congregate around the young woman with the mike, some taking the mike to express their outrage over the police assault in Oakland. Someone mentioned Atlanta, where the same night police had cleared occupiers from a city park, arresting 53 people. The plan was to march around City Hall.
The street was empty as they took off and began to holler, “Whose street? Our Street!” Someone had made a crude sign mentioning Oakland. On the south side of City Hall, I noticed a uniformed policeman heading the other way at a brisk walk, as if he didn’t want to deal with these people. Hey, let ‘em have the damn street! A lone taxi drove by, and its immigrant driver honked enthusiastically. The marchers waved back.