I witnessed the waning of Occupy Philly's encampment, but also saw what looks to me like a pattern of energy and development that suggests that occupy evictions will lead to a Metamorphosis of the Occupy Movement to something that not only walks but flies, that is more beautiful, more powerful than anything we have seen so far.
Celebratory Dancing and singing at Occupy Philly in anticipation to eviction photo by rob kall
Video of Dancing and Celebration at Occupy Philly
I spent 11 hours at Occupy Philly last night, from 6:00 PM through 5:00 PM, staying in solidarity as a journalist, with OEN colleague Cheryl Biren, there to report the threatened eviction of the occupiers from the occupied territory at Dilworth Plaza, at the foot of Philly's city hall.
I've been to the Occupy Philly encampment many times, to donate food or clothing, to interview members of different working groups, and sometimes just to be there and soak in the vibes of courageous, mostly young people, mostly out of work, participating in the embryonic emergence of a revolutionary new movement.
Last night, things were very different. The place felt and looked like a ghost town as I walked through the now familiar "neighborhoods" of this occupy village.
people packed, moving and remnants of a tent on the right photo by rob kall
Fairly confident that the police would not move into action at the 5 PM time when the permit for Occupy Philly expired, I arrived at 6 PM. A quick walk around the circumference of Occupy Philly revealed that many, many tents, large and small had already been removed. The biggest resource tents were gone, assumedly with supplies and food.
Not all the Occupy Philly folk were dancing. Some built a fortress from wood pallettes photo by rob kall
and stayed within them. photo by rob kall
When I first arrived, there were about 300 people, in a large crowd, at the front of the Plaza. There were more police than usual-- plain-clothes and uniformed. There were also a slew of local news vans, the ones with the big antennas on the top.
I'd headed down to Occupy Philly with the intention to cover what was happening as a journalist, but knowing that across the US, journalists have been arrested along with the protesters and occupiers they were covering. So I stopped on the way at an automatic teller machine and withdrew $200, in case I needed bail. You never know.
Once I arrived and started finding and talking with the people I'd met, interviewed on my radio station and hung with, it seemed pretty clear that the police were expected to wait out the occupiers and wait for attrition to wear them down. It was working. Already, many of the homeless occupiers had moved to Port Richmond. The number of tents on the plaza was already way down. By midnight, there were about 100 people grouped together on the steps where those who were going to resist eviction had resolved to stay. The food working group was handing out all kinds of food and beverages. The safety and medic working groups were there in strong numbers. People were singing, playing drums, literally celebrating.
Food working group sends food to a newly developing encampment for the homeless. photo by rob kall
A contingent of supporting occupiers from Occupy Wall Street, Zucotti Park New York joined the crowd and started dancing, playing drums and singing, really raising the energy of the group. They exultantly spoke of how beautiful it was, that Occupy Philly could go out celebrating, dancing and that they hadn't had a chance to do that at Zuccotti Park.
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