A Thanksgiving Day Invitation to City Hall

Posted on November 24, 2011 by

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Clarification: This letter was drafted by a member of the People of Color Caucus with the endorsement of the Caucus. We make this clarification simply to give the author credit for such a well written letter. We support its intention.

Open Letter to Mayor Nutter,

    Council Members, Police Commissioner Ramsey

           and Other Officials of the City of Philadelphia:

Philadelphians and the entire nation are about to celebrate a unique tradition of Thanksgiving.  The generous among us extend our sense of family to those less fortunate: the poor, the underprivileged, the homeless.

Occupy Philly has a mission to recognize that the day after Thanksgiving returns us to a society in which there are glaring inequalities.  Just as the Native Americans invited the Pilgrims to a feast on one day, and the Pilgrims accepted their charity and pushed them from their rightful lands after that, we are fearful that City Hall will surrender to the same unfair treatment of those who are at the bottom of the social and economic order.

We are quite aware of the frequently cited “dangers to health and safety” that are implicit in any extended occupation of public places.  Yet, we remind you that when Occupy Philly entered Dilworth Plaza, it found a public place that was already filled with the stench of urine and unsanitary conditions.  Our movement did not dislodge those homeless and needy already in the space, but created a sense of the American community value of sharing that included a place to sleep and food to eat.  It was our purpose to exemplify what is noble in the American spirit of equality with liberty and justice for all.  We imitated the tradition of William Penn, the Quaker founder of the City of Brotherly Love by including the natives we found, rather than expelling them.

The new conditions imposed on our movement exhibit an unfortunate similarity to the tactics of repression that confuses hiding a problem with solving it.  Mr. Mayor, the homeless will be treated to a Thanksgiving meal in countless agencies, churches and other religious places today.  Perhaps you and others will be photographed helping in this charitable task of the day.  We have been with the homeless before Thanksgiving and will be with them after this symbolic day.  Their plight is most often the result of the poverty created by concentrating wealth in the pockets of a few who are greedy and who have starved government agencies of necessary funding – all in the name of reducing deficits and preserving the so-called “job creators.”

Occupy Philly has been exceptional among the thousands of other occupy protests by identifying our cause against the economic structure in the tangible effects of injustice upon real people.  We recognize that the traditions of our city have forestalled the escalation of violence and police brutality that the nation has recently witnessed in evictions of other occupations.  We therefore call upon you to devise a solution that will allow citizens, during the coming Winter, to publicly show solidarity with the homeless through the occupation of a public space and protest against the economic structures that have reduced them to this condition.  In this way, all of you will affirm the long-standing traditions of William Penn who envisioned Philadelphia as a special city.

We take this Thanksgiving Day to invite you to a dinner with us, anytime throughout the holiday season, in our Occupy Philly community.  

 Sincerely,

Your friendly Occupiers

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