Occupy Philly, Day 15: Peace Grannies Move In

wariswasteMore than two weeks in, and it’s getting cold. The all-day rallies and sign-wielding protesters running back and forth on 15th Street, egging on traffic to honk for the 99 Percent, have come to a standstill. The City Hall construction coming on November 15 looms. But Occupy Philly presses on. Organizers estimate 300 tents set up at Dilworth Plaza. And small daily events held by the movement are happening every hour, on the hour. Even if it looks like there are less people now than there were last week and weekend, there are perhaps more voices being heard.

So, with that in mind, a bunch of local grandmothers have set up shop at the protest. They call themselves the Granny Peace Brigade and have been the Philadelphia sect of the national Peace Granny movement for the past five years.

They’re there today, with a table and tent, handing out fliers encouraging those at the protest and others passing through to call their senators and try—and try, and try—to put an end to the war(s), which is one of the many viewpoints Occupy protesters seem to share.

“We’re encouraging people here to call Senator Casey or Senator Toomey and once again try to bring the war dollars home,” Paula Paul, a Philadelphia Peace Granny, says as she passes out fliers. “We find that many people, even though we’re in a democracy, don’t think they have a sense of civicness except voting or not voting. We need to start getting people to make phone calls and realizing they can talk to their legislators.”

Paul says the group consists of grandmothers and some grandfathers all over the Delaware Valley, and everyone’s got a job to do. Those grannies who find themselves unable to travel outside a nursing home: They write/send letters and make phone calls on behalf of the organization. Those stuck at home: They knit what’re called “Stump socks” for returning veterans who’ve lost limbs and want something to keep their arms and/or legs warm.

They’ve also made a priority to give alternative literature to high schools around the Greater Philadelphia area, which seek to provide a second viewpoint (the first being your local recruiter) on enlisting in the military. Paul says there are “other forms of patriotism” one can partake in after high school.

The Grannies, five of them, aren’t sleeping over at City Hall, “because we can’t take that; the concrete,” says Paul, but will be coming in each morning and going out every evening for an indefinite period of time.

Paul says she “loves this movement” because of the implications it suggests. Getting anything done has historically taken real perseverance, she says, which America’s right wing has. “They’ve chipped away at social security and a woman’s right to choose over the last 30 years,” she says, “whereas I feel liberals make a little headway and then give up…but you need a public display of sentiment, and that’s what this is.”

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