Protesters Use Giant Rat, Screaming Baby, Residents Outraged

By David Chang
|  Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:56 AM EDT
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The use of a giant rat and a screaming baby from local protesters has Old City residents outraged. NBC10's Daralene Jones gets to the bottom of the rat ruckus.

NBC10.com - Daralene Jones

The use of a giant rat and a screaming baby from local protesters has Old City residents outraged. NBC10's Daralene Jones gets to the bottom of the rat ruckus.

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It was 6:30 in the morning when Old City resident Gloria Bell says she heard the deafening noise.

“I opened my front door and it sounded like there was a screaming baby which is really unusual for that time of the morning,” she said. “I got my dog out and the further I got away from my house the louder it got.”

What Bell heard was actually the recorded sound of a screaming baby being played over a loud speaker. It’s all part of a protest from the city’s building and trades union that nearby residents say has caused a major headache over the past few days.

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Union members with the city’s Building and Trades Council are currently protesting outside the Wyndham Hotel on 400 Arch Street over the hotel’s usage of out of town workers rather than local workers for an ongoing renovation project. The protesters are holding signs outside the hotel and also set up a large, inflatable rat. But residents say what really bothers them is the sound of the baby crying.

“We understand what they’re doing and why they’re protesting,” Bell said. “What we have a problem with is the method that they’re using and this screeching noise early in the morning before the time that the city ordinances allow.”

According to the city’s noise ordinance, protesters are allowed to make as much noise as they want after 8 a.m. Residents claim the protesters are making the noise earlier than that however, which violates the ordinance.

One angry Old City resident reached out to Philadelphia Police to complain about the noise. After several days, she received a response, telling her to call 911. When residents called 911 Tuesday morning, officers with the city’s Civil Affairs team and members of the Health Department Air Quality team responded to the area to test the noise level. By the time they arrived however, residents say the noise level from the protesters had dropped drastically and the officials did not find any violations.

“Within a few minutes the noise stopped,” Bell said. “Then at 8:01 a.m. the noise started again.”

Pat Gillespie, president of the Building Trades Council told NBC10 the protesters will abide by the city’s noise ordinance from now on. As for reps with the Wyndham Hotel, they say they’re just trying to move forward with the renovation project, which is set for completion in November. Union members say they plan to protest every day until the project is completed.

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