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Press Release from OP Women’s Caucus–Occupy Movement: Not a Utopia, but We’re Working on Alternatives

From: occupyphillymedia.org

Submitted by cindymilstein on Mon, 11/14/2011 – 12:32

This document is a product of the Occupy Philly Women’s Caucus meeting held on Sunday, November 13. During this meeting, women and their male allies discussed the parallels between sexism and harassment in the Occupy Movement, Philadelphia, and society at large.

We are concerned with the contradictory statements that the police and the mayor have made to the media about their support for the occupy movement, while simultaneously withholding support for situations of physical and sexual violence. In this next press conference we would like Mayor Nutter to address our attempts for our support in evicting sexual predators on camp that were met with statements from the police such as follows; “that’s not our job. Get your men to handle it.” These statements speak to the victim blaming and minimizing environment that survivors face when interacting with the police force. We as a movement feel it is a top priority that in these sort of assault situations it is imperative to put the survivors desires and needs at the center of response.

The recent demonizing and vilifying of the Occupy movement in the media is a scape-goating of the problems and violence that plague our communities and cities daily.  Rape happens every day, murder happens every day and Suicide happens every day. These tragedies are not symptoms or creations of the Occupy Movement, nor are they exclusive to the Occupy Movement; they are realities of our society and of our everyday lives. It is now more than ever that support is needed for the occupy movement, and the alternative responses to behavior fueled by systemic oppression. Some of these alternative responses include, increased medic trainings in Oakland, the construction of a Womens’ safe space in New York, networking with other occupy encampments and using the collective skill sets available within occupy Philadelphia. Each of these actions are working toward creating access via this movement to resources that many individuals would otherwise not have access to in the greater society as a whole. The demonizing of the movement is an attempt to block and weaken our bonds of fighting for a better world, not controlled by greed, power and violence. We stand in solidarity with the rest of the occupy movement and we acknowledge that systemic community and interpersonal violence are interconnected. We call on the media, the city of Philadelphia and we call on society at large to educate themselves on the signs and causes of suicide and confront stigmatizing mental health need, we challenge them to discuss the dynamics that allow community violence to flourish and we encourage them to increase survivor support and confront jargon that perpetuates victim blaming. We also call on survivors and allies of this violence to continue supporting each other and to enter this dialogue on how to better respond to violence and how to challenge and change the behaviors and ideas that perpetuate violence in our society. We are very pleased that Mayor Nutter has had a sudden interest in addressing and confronting sexual assault in our community, and we would like to be made aware of when the next press conference addressing the daily assault that women and oppressed people endure every day occurs.

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Occupy Philly Suggests Nutter, City Are Exploiting Negative Issues

From: http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com

photo(52)Occupy Philly working groups held a press conference today at 1 p.m. in response to Mayor Michael Nutter’s weekend comments, in which he came out with a new, harsh tone toward the movement, saying they had changed and become radicalized. He also expressed worry about an alleged rape which occurred Saturday night.

Today’s press conference, it was said by Occupy Philly representatives, was held “to correct inaccuracies made by Mayor Nutter yesterday about our occupation.”

“We haven’t changed, the mayor has,” said Gwen Snyder, who began the conference. “The mayor’s new tone is an attempt to shift focus from the real source of the problems impacting our city.”

In addition, Jody Dodd from the Legal working group said Occupy had been repeatedly emailing the city, asking about their potential move to Thomas Paine Plaza, though the city stopped responding, which is why they voted to stay on Friday. They gave out press packets detailing these emails, as well.

“[We’ve sent] emails and phone calls to collect info on alternative sites regarding a move,” said Dodd. “We received no response…we have not changed. The mayor’s attitude has.”

Later, Amanda Geraci of the women’s caucus expressed concern that members of Occupy Philly had told police of a potential sexual predator lurking at Dilworth Plaza, and were “met with statements form police, such as follows; ‘That’s not our job. Get your men to handle it.’”

But, she said, “We are very pleased that Mayor Nutter has had a sudden interest in addressing and confronting sexual assault in our community, and we would like to be made aware of when the next press conference addressing the daily assault that women and oppressed people endure every day occurs.”

I met with a homeless member of the camp after the press conference, who said he’s been Occupying Dilworth Plaza “before this happened,” and called the mayor’s want to kick out the movement a “breach of contract.”

“How do you just evict people?” he said. “Plus, there are homeless people that have been here for 25 years. Since when is it illegal to be homeless? And if it is, fix the problem. The city has [thousands] of vacant buildings…Give people a chance to fix it up and get a roof over their head.”

A licensed carpenter, he’s angry about the planned construction. “You’re telling me a $55 million dollar skating rink is more important than feeding the homeless? Getting them medication?” he said.

And he said he’s not moving when a potential decamping occurs—but doesn’t think the city will conduct its own decamp the way some other cities have.

“I don’t think this city wants to do [what happened in Oakland] considering their history,” he said. “I think our officials are a little more savvy than that. But if they’re stupid enough to do that…” He drifts out. “This is the United States-of-freaking-America. How is any of this possible?”

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