Occupy The 4th of July — Protesters Gather in Philadelphia
Ever thought it was odd to celebrate U.S. independence while our country oppresses other nations and people around the world? Ever ponder the irony of watching fireworks to celebrate your “freedom” only to slave at work the next day?
You’re not alone.
Nearly 2,000 protesters have convened in Philadelphia as part of the Occupy National Gathering, a 5-day assembly near Independence Mall that is focusing on ways to improve our nation.
In a Philadelphia Weekly blog, Occupy Philly activist and Gathering organizer, Julia Alford-Fowler, stated:
We have chosen to gather en masse because the Occupy Movement is based on the idea that if communities come together across traditional dividing lines, they can work together in a safe space to envision and implement a more just and equitable society.
Protesters have planned workshops, rallies and a variety of speakers including journalists Matt Taibbi and Chris Hedges. Speakers have begun talking about both domestic and foreign destructive U.S. policies.
On Sunday, 28 protesters were arrested when they went on an unplanned solidarity march to City Hall. Police charged them with disorderly conduct and obstructing a roadway. Fellow Occupiers sat in front of the police station yesterday, holding “Jail Solidarity” and waiting until all their friends were released.
Today, a group of Veterans for Peace members refused to move from their space on the Mall, despite their permit expiring the last night. More than 100 Gathering protesters stood in solidarity with the veterans as police confronted them. The police gave them until 6 P.M. tonight to move.
The Gathering’s highlight event, crafting a Vision of a Democratic Future, will take place tomorrow, July 4. According to the Gathering’s website, the Occupiers “will take part in a visioning process designed to allow every voice to be heard while allowing repeat visions to organically rise to the top.”
Occupiers nationwide have been organizing this event for the past several months. Three vans have even been travelling to Philadelphia from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle since early June as part of the Occupy Caravan plan to gather as many people as possible. The event will conclude with a 99-mile march to Wall St. in Lower Manhattan beginning Thursday morning.