Monday, November 14, 2011

Press Release from Occupy Philly (in part)

Below is the text of a press release issued by Occupy Philly in response to Nutter's opportunistic instrumentalization of a rape at City Hall—an instrumentalization that paves the way for the demolition of the site. I don't have all of the working groups' texts, but the People of Color Caucus' statement offers an insightful critique of Nutter's opportunism and cynicism.


November 14, 2011

First, we want to thank the people of Philadelphia for their ongoing support for Occupy Philly and our efforts to address social and economic inequities in our city and beyond.

We’ve called this press conference today to correct the inaccuracies in Mayor Nutter’s statements yesterday about our occupation.

Occupy Philly and the occupy movement in general did not create the problems of public health and unemployment outlined by the mayor. On the contrary, these problems, among many others, created the occupy movement. Such problems are not symptoms or inventions of Occupy Philly, nor are they exclusive to the occupy movement. They are instead indicative of the greater social, political, and economic injustices of our society and everyday life—injustices often perpetuated by the mayor’s policies. This is exactly why we started this occupation.

We feel that the mayor’s inaccuracies, which four Occupy Philly working groups will specifically discuss today, were an intentional effort to divide and discredit our movement. Within Occupy Philly, we proudly support a diversity of opinions. We stand in solidarity with each other and our direct democracy, and we reaffirm our commitment to nonviolence.

We haven’t changed; the mayor has. The mayor’s new tone is an attempt to shift the focus from the real source of the problems impacting our city to those of us engaged in trying to create just alternatives.

So we’ve brought together delegates from the Occupy Philly Legal, Food, Safety, and People of Color of Caucus to address specific comments of the mayor’s.

Statement from the People of Color Caucus

As the People of Color Caucus, we work to eliminate racism and related systems of oppression inside and beyond the Occupy Philadelphia movement. We oppose the mayor’s recent statements about Occupy Philadelphia regarding civil disobedience, homelessness, and violence against women and invite him to meet with us to resolve them.

It is shameful that the Mayor has decried the use of civil disobedience as a tactic, when it has been used by leaders like Rosa Parks and Philadelphia’s own Cecil B. Moore as a way to fight racism in our nation. Civil disobedience is at the heart of American values, but the Mayor’s policies are not.

We reject the Mayor’s argument that more policing leads to more safety. We point to both the repressive youth curfew law and Stop and Frisk as examples of how increased police contact actually puts people of color at risk. We point to the police shooting just last week of Sadiq Moore as he entered his own home. We demand an Occupy Philly encampment and a City of Philadelphia that are free from police harassment and violence.

We question the Mayor’s concern about homelessness given his refusal to consider the very serious problems that the Dilworth Plaza renovations will cause for the homeless Philadephians who have occupied the space far longer than these 40 days. This issue is especially pressing given the City’s recent decision to close the Ridge Avenue shelter this Winter, our largest homeless shelter.

We believe that the cynical use of sexual violence and health concerns are opportunistic ways for the mayor to justify an attack on our movement. In the most recent reports available from the PPD, there were 28 rapes reported in our city in the last two weeks of October – where were the other 28 press conferences over those two weeks? We oppose violence against women in all of its forms, and this movement is ultimately about creating a just world in which all people are safe in their bodies, homes, and cities. As we stand against that violence, we also stand against attempts to derail this movement.

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