It's a beautiful day for a walk, so I took some time earlier today to head up Broad Street to Dilworth Plaza, next to City Hall to see the Occupy Philly rally/demonstration/gathering. Honestly, if not for the police on every corner and the middle of Broad Street, you might not know anything was going on.
From 200 feet away, there was no sign of the latest outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. On my way into work today, there were helicopters in the air and news trucks everywhere. By noon though the 200 or so Occupiers were mostly surrounded by cops, confused homeless people, citizens documenting the situation, and folks like me, just enjoying the day.
Clearly the Occupiers had thought things were going to be bigger, staging a Medic area, a family zone, sign painting stations and food distribution areas. None of that appears to be really necessary. There were plenty of signs and food.
What there wasn't was a coherent message. Forgiving student loans was a common these, corporate greed another. But mostly the crowd seemed to be trying to convince itself that the gathering meant something. I just didn't feel it. To me, the folks there looked like an odd blending of the kind of folks you see on the steps at UArts every day and some seriously aging hippies. There were also several kids who can't play guitar. Maybe they read somewhere that you need to have guitars at protest rallies.
I have to say that i see this movement as a left wing version of the Tea Party. Nothing too organized, very diffuse ideaology, no center theme. Except that they are angry with the way things are and they want change. Both groups are dissatisfied with the way the nation we live in is being run. Neither seems to have a clue as to what to do about it though.
The Tea Party movement was co-opted by the far right of the Republican Party, and this Occupy movement seems to have been co-opted by labor unions. It will be interesting to see if the unions have as much success focusing the anger of the Occupiers. It will also be interesting to see how many show up tomorrow.