It's a cool autumn morning. The hussle and bussle has yet to begin. I sit on a cold granite slab and sip at my coffee, rub my eyes, and look up through the trees toward the towering building in front of me. Here I am, starting day eighteen in protest against what this building has come to represent. What was once a place to symbolize freedom and a voice for the people now serves as a bitter reminder of what greed has done to our political and economic environment.
A group from Occupy Wall Street has come to see us, pass on information from OWS, and see how we are running things. Word has spread of our growth and of the lack of resistance we have seen from the police and the mayor. Although tension exists, we have remained peaceful and respectful. The police have been amicable and hardly seem a necessary presence here. They nod as we pass, tell us good morning, and carry on with downing their burnt coffee and smoking their cigarettes.
My daughter plays in the children's area. One of the occupiers comes by to play peek-a-boo. They both giggle, and the sound echoes in the plaza. It feels safe here- though the crowd is very diverse and several come from the homeless community, there is a great sense of respect and friendship emanating from this place. Of course there are tiffs here and there. Of course people disagree. It's the same with any community.
I am receiving text messages from a friend participating in a sit-in at the local police department. They are gathering in protest of police brutality, both within Philadelphia and across the nation. They sit in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Chicago, Boston, New York, and other Occupy stations which have been treated as pests by the police force. They sit and demand justice for several instances if racism and inhumane treatment of citizens of Philadelphia. We send medical supplies, blankets, food, and heartfelt messages of support. They have made it through the night without arrest. It has been sixteen hours and counting. They plan to stay until Monday morning.
In 45 minutes we plan to kick off our Sunday festival. We have arranged music, poetry, art, and food. The response from the community has been enthusiastic and heartening.
The more I stay here the more I feel it is my place. This is what I am meant to do; live and prove that every human is equal, show that democracy is real, and work to actively change the world I live in. Finally. I have purpose.
Ally Nauss is a Mother, Artist, Knitter, Chef, Game Designer, and Activist involved with the Occupy Movement, in particular with Occupy Philadelphia. You can keep up with the Occupy Movement around the globe through their various sites listed in the unofficial Occupy Together directory.