“The Change We Seek Cannot Be Evicted”: The Occupation in Philly Still Going Strong(er)
“In the event of an eviction, we reserve the right to destroy capitalism” was just one of the many clever banners and signs created in less than 24 hours–in this case, thanks to some rad anticapitalists at the philly occupation–as the occupation in philly strongly and exuberantly faced the 5 pm Sunday “must move” eviction deadline from the city. Numerous people spray painted signs of resistance on the tents that have become homes for many without homes, even as many other tents for those who needed them were moved to another location, so people can continue to have shelter until this occupation & others hopefully start to liberate houses. Giant boards propped up at the front of the plaza were spray painted with examples of the ways in which Occupy Philly has already fixed up our own city, via self-organization, ranging from the number of free meals cooked & shared to the amount of free medic care provided.
But beyond just signs, what made our alleged (so said the mayor) eviction night so incredible were the thousands of people who came out to show and live their support. A midday press conference offered powerful words of how Occupy Philly has made a commons that not only decries inequity but also tries to exemplify how to create an egalitarian society in its place. At 3 pm, hundreds gathered in a huge people’s mic circle, to share everything from the plan to create rows of folks on the stairs at Market & 15th, to link arms and risk arrest as a show of holding our ground & ideals, to updates from legal, media, & medic, to words of inspiration, connecting us to the global wave of occupations and uprisings. The food tent–sans tent–was moved to the top of the stairs at Market & 15th, and from there, all night, the hardy & cheerful OP Food Working Group shared everything from hot soup, coffee, & pizza, to water, cookies, & snacks.
As a clock bell rang out 5 pm over the now-crowded plaza, thousands gathered at the front entrance, with dozens and dozens sitting on the steps, linking arms, to wait for eviction. There was an eerie lack of police–even fewer than usual, just part of what’s become an effective strategy on the mayor’s and police’s part to attempt to wear us down through boredom by “playing nice.” Amusing speculation flew around about when the police would come in–after the Eagles’ game, say, because they were all watching it. And quickly, within a minute or two, the eviction watch turned into one of the most bonding, festive evenings of the occupation. One occupier remarked, “We’ve never had this much time to just socialize!”
For about an hour or two, it was like a gigantic reunion, bringing folks who’d been to the occupation in the early days, or irregularly, to the plaza to mingle with those of us who’ve been crazily overly preoccupied with the occupation via working groups, general assemblies, and the numerous (often absurd) distractions created by the city, police, and their collaborators. As the night wore on, a huge general-assembly-turned-people’s-mic involved all sorts of people speaking to the “why” of occupation and visions of a world they’d like to see–or the world we’re already making. Occupiers from other cities sent messages of solidarity, or were there in person (enormous thanks for those displays of lived solidarity!). People also shared songs, and there was even a harmonica “mic check” moment.
As an occupier wrote this morning: “Our eviction party last night started off at 5pm with about a thousand supporters and an open mic about what kind of world we want to live in. Then [at 2 am] we had a dance party, a conga line to Thomas Paine Plaza, and a 5 am march against traffic to Rittenhouse Square, where we strolled past police cars at every entrance. Eviction didn’t happen, but a lot of fun did!”
Another occupier notes this morning: “Please go to Occupy Philly to support and relieve people who’ve been up ALL NIGHT holding the space against the eviction!! We called Nutter’s bluff and are still going strong! Much love crew!!!”
It’s not over! Whether you’ve been occupying or want to start doing so now, come and join us–today, tonight, and until the police finally evict us, and from there, in a neighborhood, city, buildings, schools, clinics, theaters, and so many other places, everywhere, near you and around the world. As another banner proclaimed last night: “From Cairo to LA to Philly, we are winning!”
Photos: “In case of eviction” by Dave Onion (with many more at http://occupyphillymedia.org/gallery/occupy-philly-november-27th); the rest by me, courtesy of my little phone.