They're Baaa-aaack: Are You Ready for 'Occupy 4th of July'?
I don't know about you but I sure have missed the clowns from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Their crazy antics provided plenty of comic relief during these grim economic times. I mean really, who could resist those lovable lunkheads and their filthy encampments? Or the abusive, obscene signage? Or the unintentional hilarity that would ensue when they tried to explain what they were protesting?
Well, if the light has gone out of your life because OWS has retreated into the shadows (or simply gone back home to live with mommy and daddy), never fear. Beginning this weekend through the 4th of July, the dregs of the OWS movement will be gathering in Philadelphia, birthplace of the 99% -- and coincidentally, America -- to denounce, harangue, inveigh, reproach, and otherwise throw a tantrum about whatever it is they think is wrong with the world.
The national gathering is endorsed by more than 100 Occupy groups across the country. Organizers have kept in touch through a networking communication system known as "inter-Occupy," using conference calls and other means of communication, said Tammy Shapiro, a member of Occupy Wall Street.
Larry Swetman, a member of Occupy Philadelphia, said the conference will feature teach-ins, workshops, and protests, including one in which participants will march to the Comcast Center. On the fourth day, Swetman said, protesters will come up with a list of priorities and goals that will likely cover a broad range of issues including health care and housing. Ultimately, a group of protesters plans to lead a 99-mile march to Wall Street on July 5.
Swetman expects about 1,500 people, with some coming in caravans from all over the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami and Chicago.
The group isn't releasing many specifics, but camping will likely be part of the program. "Please be prepared to camp! Due to Philadelphia weather in July, tents more than likely won't be necessary, so you may not want to bring them," a statement on the group's website reads.
"What we plan is to 'Occupy' for our national gathering in and around Independence Mall," Swetman said. "We occupy with tents and we build communities."
The second, smaller conference, dubbed "Continental Congress 2.0", is being planned at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from July 2 to July 4. That conference isn't endorsed by Occupy Wall Street. Organized by The 99% Working Group, it's expected to draw around 150 delegates from across the country, said Robert Manning, of Pinole, Calif., one of the organizers.
Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter supports the notion of free speech for the protestors, but was perhaps more prescient than he realizes when he said "No one has the right to act like an idiot." It could be hizzoner and Philadelphia's finest will be quite busy over the next week enforcing that dictum.