- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
The PPD is Devoting Countless Resources to Protect us from the Tyranny of Rambling 12 Hour Meetings
Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble. Unless the people assembling are annoying. If so, then it’s cool.
-First Amendment to the US Constitution
There has been a lot to like about the way that the city has responded to Occupy Philadelphia. Rather than the violent reactions of Oakland, California, the 3 AM- press-blocked police raid in New York (in the surely joking words of Paul Davies, "quick, easy and painless"...), or casually dumping pepper spray in the eyes of kids, the City has been fairly relaxed and reasonable about everything. There is no question that everyone from Mayor Nutter and the Managing Director, to the rank and file cops, has mostly done this right.
However… the last week or two has taken a turn to the absurd, and I hope that the City changes course before this gets too ridiculous.
What has happened? First, in the attempt to get the protestors to move, the Mayor’s Office posted notices telling people to leave 'immediately.' Then, when people moved, almost immediately, the Mayor told them no one was evicting them yet, and that they had to ‘just follow the process.’ But, as Occupy Philly was doing that, the City tried some weird divide and conquer thing, by granting a permit to a small, buffoonish splinter group, all the while pretending that these guys were anything other than a couple of clowns who wanted to feel important. Despite knowing that the clowns represented only themselves, the City even posted a photo album with them, signing their permit in the Managing Director’s Office. (And the City continues this fiction, pretending that they are dealing with Occupy Philly, rather than a few yokels.) On a smaller level, there was the discovery of what appears to be a city cop, gleefully taunting the Occupiers with pepper spray jokes. (Hahaha! Police brutality is hilarious!)
But, nowhere is this turn for the worst better demonstrated by the fact that the Philadelphia Police Department is currently ‘protecting’ virtually every corner in Washington and Rittenhouse Squares, with police cars and vans squatting square in the middle of each entrance to the parks.
Rittenhouse (1:00 PM today):
Washington Square (12:45 PM today):
Apparently, the city has determined that we need to put 15-20 cops at each park, round the clock, with their engines running, to protect us against the potential danger of people like this:
Newsflash: It is not illegal for 200 people to go sit in the park on a weekday afternoon. People do it all the time. Its called lunch.
The notion that we need these officers there constantly is really stupid, and calls into question the city’s entire calculus on the ‘costs’ of Occupy Philly. Let me give you one example of why this annoys me: In my currently-on-hold professional life, I spent much of my time dealing with scam artists that went after vulnerable people, oftentimes the elderly. While I represented people on the civil side of things, many of these scams were clearly crimes… if someone would arrest and prosecute the offenders.
Thankfully, the forty-officers-assigned-round-the-clock-to-block-people-from-public-parks Philly PD has a taskforce for investigating these exact kinds of crimes. Great! Last time I checked, can you guess how many detectives were assigned to it, for the entire city? That would be... one. Meanwhile, Seth Williams has made virtually no changes in the way economic crimes are prosecuted in the city. The party line for both the police and the DA is that the city does not have the manpower to devote resources to something like that, in a city with 300-plus murders a year.
So, to recap, no resources to fight economic crimes against the vulnerable, but many resources to protect us from the threat of people protesting… economic crimes and inequality.
Really, just practically speaking, is this really a good use of resources? If Occupy Philadelphia—which is already flanked by cops 24/7— decides to go on a march to Rittenhouse Square, they won’t be going there through some stealth maneuver. They will probably vote on it during a rambling, live streamed, 16 hour general assembly meeting, and then announce it in a press release beforehand, all while six different reporters livetweet updates. And then they will go on foot. I am pretty sure the police can react in time.