Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Yesterday an early winter came to Philadelphia. We had rain, wind, sleet and snow, and conditions at OccupyPhiladelphia were difficult. The group went ahead with plans to march to Temple University, where former president Clinton was supposed to give a speech at the kickoff of Philly mayor Nutter's re-election campaign. However, the event was cancelled due to the weather. OccupyPhiladelphia demonstrators had waited in line in the rain and snow for about an hour. After the cancellation was announced, we rallied inside the student activity center before returning to the occupation at Dilworth Plaza. My medic buddy yesterday was my friend Emilia, who is an RN. It was a difficult day to be outside.
While I continue to be fully supportive of OccupyPhiladelphia, I have decided to limit my participation to marches and other demonstrations where a street medic can be of help. I cannot continue to be on staff at the medical tents due to the problem of second hand cigarette smoke. Even though they are medical people, almost everyone smokes, and with the bad weather the smoking moved inside the medical tent. Also in the past few days I have had problems with several homeless people who were abusive. I am not trained to deal with their mental health issues. It has also been difficult to establish friendships and feel like a medic team member. Most of the medical staff are a couple of generations younger than I am and there is ageism to deal with. Finally, I need a break from the seven days a week shift schedule that I have been putting in at the occupation.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Photo: Protesting at one of the banks
Today is going to be a tough day at the occupation due to the cold, rainy, windy weather. There is a march planned from 15th and Market to the Temple University campus, where Bill Clinton is speaking. That will be a difficult trek!
Friday, October 28, 2011
David Dayen at FireDogLake writes:
"...those aching for a white paper or some kind of action that will result in legislation passing or a voter registration drive need to chill out. I see no reason to question a movement that has already changed the conversation in the country in a little over a month. And the physical occupation does have an importance all its own, as a manifestation of the determination to change the debilitating path the country has been under for so long."
Photo: Bank Jam Dance Party march last week. The auto had a sound system.
Blogger Andrew Sullivan suggested recently that winter weather will cause many of the occupy movements to dissipate. "Why didn't they do it in the Spring?" Sullivan wonders. We'll see. Tomorrow there will be a march from OccupyPhiladelphia to the Temple University campus where former president Clinton is speaking.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Occupy Philadelphia is committed to non-violence. Most or all of the various occupy movements that I know about are also non-violent. However, there is no way for us to prevent violent outsiders or rogue elements from infiltrating our movements and provoking the police. There is some evidence that authorities have placed violent perpetrators into the midst of non-violent demonstrations. The violent clashes in Oakland and Chicago in recent days are deeply troubling. At OccupyChicgago, the police arrested two registered nurses and tore down the medic tent. This seems to be a violation of internationally recognized principles respecting the neutrality of medical personnel. Was this another police riot?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My participation in and dedication to OccupyPhiladelphia (OP) comes from a deep moral association with many of the political and social justice concerns raised by occupy participants. I participated in the anti-war movement of 1960s, and I have for several decades worked for gay rights and progressive political causes, so I am a veteran of the disappointments that remain in the wake of these movements. However, these movements were/are highly ethical and I have no regrets about my own personal participation in any of them. I feel the same way about OP. The hours that I spend at OP on Dilworth Plaza recharge my soul and renew my hope for a better, more just world. Is the deck stacked against us? Probably so. Nevertheless, I have a strong affinity for the people at OP. I need to stand with them no matter the final outcome. Our perceived lack of a set of concrete demands actually appeals to me philosophically, as the context of the occupy movement has an overarching goal of economic and social justice. We are free to embrace any and all specific changes that are consistent with this overall goal. And while America might be able to smother us, history suggests that we should be able to at least alter the conversation and move it in the correct direction, as did social justice movements of the past such as the progressive movement, organized labor, and the civil rights movement. I remain optimistic that occupy movements can have a positive effect on our country. These youth-driven occupations are bottom up cries from the soul of our country for justice and for the future of America from some of our brightest and most ethical young people, and they may, in fact, represent our last and best hope. At the moment, the alternative seems to be a descent into corporate funded Tea Party fascism epitomized by any of the candidates running for president. Unfortunately, this includes the current occupant of the White House, who is totally beholding to Wall Street, the military and corporate America.
Our Fire Island friend Tom Holden died earlier this month. Tom had a good, long life, only succumbing to kidney failure at 87. We met Tom and his husband Michael back around 1999. Tom was an avid gardener. He loved flowers and he was an accomplished master at Ikebana, the art of Japanese style flower arranging. When I expressed an interest in learning Ikebana, Tom lent me Ikebana books and gave me tips. We saw Tom and Michael often back in the early part of the last decade when Tom was younger and still healthy. We would have dinner together at our respective homes on Fire Island. Often, Tom would say thank you by giving us a hand painted sea shell like the one one in the photo. Tom was a gentle person. We will miss his beautiful flower arrangements and pleasant disposition.
Photos: On Sunday, we enjoyed music and poetry at OccupyPhiladelphia festival.
Last night, the OccupyPhiladelphia general assembly ("GA") approved a letter draftet in response to the City of Philadelphia's letter listing safety and sanitation concerns. OccupyPhiladelphia (OP) hopes to continue constructive communication with the city. OP works like a direct democracy, where anyone can attend the GA, ask questions, speak, and offer amendments to proposals. OccupyPhiladelphia is also firmly committed to non-violence. Hopefully, this will enable OP to avoid violent confrontations with police such as those that happened overnight in Atlanta and Oakland. The Oakland situation in particular, should concern all of us. Why are the police using tear gas and other weapons against peaceful demonstrators exercising their constitutional right to assemble?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
14 protestors who were arrested yesterday outside Philadelphia's police administration building have apparently been released. They made a strong statement about police brutality and the role of police in our society. I'll be heading down to OP for my morning shift today, but then I'll be off for a few days for an out of town trip.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Photo: The march to Penn Friday October 20
A group of OccupyPhiladelphia protestors spent last night at 8th and Arch Street blocking traffic in front of the police administration building, known a "the roundhouse." Yesterday was a national day of protest against police brutality. The police are the paid enforcers of corporate hegemony, and all to often they employ brutal tactics against peaceful protestors exercising their constitutional rights.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
This is why I am always saying to OWS and to anyone who wants to assemble: be PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL. Be respectful to police, do not yell at them; sing, don't chant; be civil to pedestrians and shop owners; don't escalate tensions; try to sit when there is tension rather than confront physically; be dignified and be nonviolent...be peaceful. Don't march in a militaristic way. Don't cover your faces or let anyone with you cover their faces. Bring old people. Bring kids. Bring instruments, form bands of musicians and singers. Don't fight. Don't destroy property.
Yesterday OccupyPhiladelphia marched to the Penn campus to protest Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was supposed to give a speech at the Wharton School. Cantor cancelled when he learned that his audience would include members of the public. He was only interested in speaking to rich business types I guess. Anyway, the protest took place anyway, with hundreds of people marching. The protesters gathered outside of Huntsman Hall for a rally and speeches, including a professor who teaches at the Wharton School. She stated that Wharton is complicit in the problems of wealth inequality, greed and corruption, since students can graduate Wharton without ever having to take an ethics course. The protest moved inside Huntsman Hall at one point, with chanting that insured that everyone inside got the message about Eric Cantor.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Photo: The "pallet houses" at Occupy Philadelphia - the city wants them moved away from the building.
Yesterday we had two homeless people who were difficult to manage. One became violent and attacked a 19 year old college student volunteer. We do a lot of caring for the homeless, more so than for the occupiers themselves. OccupyPhiladelphia had become a magnet for the homeless, who can get better care with us than elsewhere. TOday there are marches and demonstrations planned in conjunction with US House majhority whip Eric Cantor's visit tot he Wharton School.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
As I wrote to my friend Barbara, prior to OccupyPhiladelphia I had no experiences in direct contact with homlessness...at the occupation you get to meet homeless people, learn their stories and become their friends. Yes, many of them have mental health issues, but not all - some are just poor. They are by and large good people who have fallen through the cracks in our warped political and economic system, many of them victims of economic oppression.
Monday, October 17, 2011
This morning a group of Occupy Philadelphia protestors decided to picket with signs outside of the Fox News Channel 29 studios at 4th and Market so I went along as medic support. Everyone had fun and no one needed any medical attention. There was no police presence. This is what democracy looks like. Two excellent must-read articles are by Paul Krugman in the NY Times and Robert Reich at Huffington Post. Reich explains beautifully how so called conservatives (they are actually regressives)really want to bring this country back to the 19th century with all of the abuses and wealth inequality that existed at that time before the successive reforms of the 20th century.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Occupy Philadelphia...we have "General Assemblies" twice a day. We often use the "people's mic," the crowd repeats what they hear from the speaker so that everyone can get the message. We also are now caring for many homeless people. Some homeless people are becoming my friends. This is a new experience for me. I feel that it is making me a better person. One of my professors from Temple University - Joe Schwartz, a democratic socialist - came to Occupy Philadelphia today to do a teach-in.
On Saturday Occupy Philadelphia marched first to the offices of PA Republican Senator Pat Toomey to protest his conservative policies. Then the march proceeded to Independence Hall where we joined up with anti-war and economic and social justice protestors there. It was a beautiful day for a march.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Dan took the photo of Bradley and me at the satellite medical tent over the weekend. This morning City Hall tower was shrouded in fog and mist. The other photos are of the main HQ medical tent where I spend a lot of time. Overnight we had serious rain. We are seeing medical issues related to the moisture. Today I treated a young man for "trench foot," a condition that you get from exposure to moisture. Living outdoors at City Hall it's tough for people to stay dry when it rains continuously. Shoes and socks get soaked and this leads to problems.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
This is the medical headquarters tent. I've been doing an early AM shift beginning at 5 AM here. Today was the first day we had rain since the beginning of the occupation. We did lots of preparation for the wet weather and things seemed to go well. Relations with the City are good, which pleases some people and does not please others. Today the City sent a letter to the occupation listing some safety and sanitation problems that they want corrected. I've met a lot of interesting people and made some new friends. Our patients at the tents have been a mix of protesters, homeless people, and ordinary citizens. The other day I cleaned up and bandaged a teen who had a skate board accident. People are very kind and caring in occupied Philadelphia.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Monday will be day 5 for Occupy Philadelphia. Here is a map of Dilworth Plaza on the West side of City Hall showing the location of various activity centers. I'm usually stationed at the red MED cross site near the center of the map. My shift Monday starts at 11 AM until 7 PM.