Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

Occupation in Philly, Day 4

Occupations, unoccupations, de-occupations, reoccupations, and the creation of wholly new spaces, from Wall Street to Market Street (here in Philly), from Buffalo to Sarajevo, from Portland to China, from Detroit to Amsterdam….

Just stumbled across the FB page “Occupy Judaism,” asserting, “Finally, an occupation progressive Jews can get behind,” underscoring that with all the contradictions of “occupying everything” as a phrase, there are millions who understand it more as a placeholder for us to question & resist spaces that are coercively, brutally occupied and assert & practice how we might potentially do it differently.

And today here at the occupation in Philly, some autonomist/antiauthoritarian folks brought a bunch of pallets, and turned the pallets into housing, with cardboard siding, mostly for folks who have already been living on the nearby streets or plaza, homeless (now if only the city would open up the nearby bathrooms in city hall or bring in port-o-lets; many of us many not have voted for not taking the permit for our occupied space, but now that we have it, the city needs to meet some of our needs–and especially those who are forced to live on the streets).

Anarchists also kicked off the first nonpermitted march, with a “Decolonize Philly” banner to contest Columbus Day. A bunch of folks who had never done a nonpermitted march joined us, after we first all chatted about what it meant to do something without the police’s permission. And though it was technically not illegal for us to walk down the street while in motion as a group, we all touched base about how people felt, before doing so. Maybe not the most exciting march, but about 100 or so people enjoyed their first nonpermitted march; many got to make up their own slogans, which we all then chanted eagerly, such as “500 years of stolen lands; put power back in the people’s hands”; and we kept stopping, to figure out together where we wanted to march and when we wanted to end. At one point, the police decided we needed as escort. They sidled up to me and a friend, saying, “Can we help you?” “No, we’re doing just fine,” said my friend. A few woman marching next to me, who had never done a march without police permission, asked me, “Shouldn’t we take their help?” I smiled at her, and replied, “You know, I think we’ve been walking just fine without them.” She thought about it for a moment, and joyfully nodded her head: “Yes, we have been!” Our march ended at the people’s mic area, back on our occupied plaza, and several folks spoke up–one to read a moving statement by an indigenous person from Occupy Wall Street; another person talked about the people who lived on the land under the city hall before William Penn and the Quakers, how they were communal, and how we were trying to bring such communal practices back, while remembering those who came before settlers and occupiers; and a third person talked about Puerto Rico’s occupation.

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2011 by in Dispatches from Occupy Philly.
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