The Occupy movement might be gone from encampments on Wall Street, at City Hall and around the country but the anti-corporate greed (and plenty of other causes) movement continues to exist as occupiers from dozens of movements are in Philly this week for the Occupy National Gathering.
On Monday this writer was embedded with the #NatGat folks as they held break out strategy sessions and listened to speakers in Franklin Square throughout the day before marching miles through downtown Philadelphia starting around rush hour to call for corporate accountability.
There were a few things I noticed on Day 3 of the Gathering.
First, the movement is still both plagued and blessed with varying viewpoints. I say plagued because an argument many on the outside have of the movement is that it lacks focus -- too many cooks in the kitchen type of idea. I say blessed because especially during breakout sessions, people who might feel disenfranchised in other circles get their voice heard.
Second, with no encampment, people coming and going and folks still arriving from other cities it was hard to really gage the exact amount of protesters
Thirdly, the march around the city lasted nearly 2 and half hours with stops in front of police headquarters, at the Comcast Building and various other Center City office buildings remained peaceful and energetic throughout.
The marchers were joined by non-Occupy folks including a large contingency of CWA union employees upset with Verizon. They also seemed to pick up some lookers on along the way and were accompanied by at least two dozen police on foot and bicycle.
The police also had another tool at their disposal – their own videographer. I asked Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey the purpose for the cop with the camera and Ramsey said it was so that the cops could review incidents if anything was alleged against either police or protesters.
The marchers caused plenty of traffic headaches for people in Center City Monday including bunched up Route 17 SEPTA buses on 19th Street and one scooter driver who kept screaming at the protesters that he was part of the “99 Percent” yet they were running his day.
But there were also onlookers who didn’t seem upset but rather interested in the cause. That curiosity was helped by protesters willing to stay back a minute or two to voluntarily explain why they were out there in the first place to anyone willing to listen.
And, though, I didn’t really see any arrests or violence, that didn’t mean protesters weren’t prepared to possibly go to jail. Many marchers had a phone number of Occupy organizers written in their arms in case they got that one phone call after being arrests.