Fight for Philly Job Advocates told to ‘Occupy a Bathtub’ at Rally

toomey signOnly four counter-protesters made it to Fight For Philly’s ‘Toomey Monopoly’ rally yesterday. That’s about half the number from the last time protesters came out to his Philly office at 8 Penn Plaza—though they wielded many of the same homemade signs, including “Cut Taxes and Spending” and “We Are the 53 Percent,” the latter of which is still hilarious.

But they brought a new one to the rally. “Go Occupy a Bathtub While We Pay for Your Welfare” it read.

“That’s insulting,” an older woman who showed up for the rally said of the sign. “She (the woman holding the sign) doesn’t understand the system. People fight for welfare when they can’t fight for jobs anymore. But I don’t think [the protesters] came here thinking we were going to be fighting for jobs.”

A Fight for Philly organizer, Precious, said she had no comment on the sign.

Another organizer, who declined to be named, said the protester was entitled to her opinion, “but it’s not the most in-tuned opinion.”

A man at the Rally named Howard said the sign was “messed up.”

“You don’t want to hear what I think of that,” he said.

The protest was organized around the theme of Sen. Pat Toomey playing games with the 99 percent due to his votes against the American Jobs Act and “persistent catering to the interests of big business and billionaires.” A phony Monopoly board and dice were used to demonstrate this idea. Several members of FFP spoke and rallied the crowd while the counter-protesters stood behind a wall of bike cops.

photo(42)In fairness, the counter protesters (most of whom I recognized as being Temple University College Republicans) were probably expecting Occupy Philly demonstrators to be there, not struggling job advocates chanting slogans like “We want to work.”

Unfortunately for the young conservatives, they didn’t garner much sympathy. Or say a word. And their signs didn’t make any sense, since (assuming they actually are in college), they likely don’t pay for anyone’s welfare and, unless earning over $50,000 in a side business or the best internship ever, aren’t part of “the 53 percent.” But I wasn’t able to verify any of this, because they didn’t say anything.

When I asked the girl about the ‘Bathtub’ sign, she hid her face. Another counter-protester looked at me and shook her head. When pressed and told it would help to know what the sign meant, since many found it insulting, I still got no answer.

At 12:40, the students left.

FFP organizer Jasmine Rivera continued to speak through a bullhorn about “strength in numbers” in between chants of “Good jobs is what we need” and “Toomey, Toomey, come on down.” (note: Toomey was likely not at his Philadelphia office yesterday.)
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At 1pm, about 200 members of Occupy Philly turned the corner on 16th, marching toward the office building. Members of FFP erupted in cheers.

Two members of FFP put on a short skit in the middle of the crowd on JFK Boulevard, before the clot moved onto the Comcast Center, adjacent to the building, where nine Occupy protesters would later get arrested.

“Any time we do something with this and nobody gets out of line, I think that’s good,” said JP, a Fight for Philly organizer. “These people here that work in this building [he points to 8 Penn Center]…I’m pretty sure they’re saying, ‘Yo, how many time’s this gonna happen?’”

2 Responses to “ Fight for Philly Job Advocates told to ‘Occupy a Bathtub’ at Rally ”

  1. AG says:

    I follow your blog for the best Occupy Philly coverage in town. You’ve brought up the $50,000 and the 53% connection again. I don’t get it. I’m a social worker and have always earned about 30k-35k for my family (of 4). I’m a sole provider for my family and have always paid taxes. Am I not supposed to pay taxes if I make less than 50k? My understanding is that if you have a job that is documented, you pay taxes (just progressively more as you make more). That is the way it has always worked for me. I think a lot of tax payers are with me in making less than 50k and still paying taxes (think of most of the people working in a mall).

  2. Randy LoBasso says:

    Hi AG:

    Basically, the talking point that led to the sign and others is, “Only half of Americans pay taxes” (those that work hard, or something.) But what they mean is “federal taxes,” and, at that, they mean “federal income taxes,” and that statement, according to the NYT article below, relies on “a cleverly selective reading of the facts.” Almost everyone pays some federal tax, but not necessarily “federal INCOME tax” (more likely payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Medicaid). And we’re all paying local and state taxes, of course.

    Here are two links that can explain this in further detail:

    http://keithhennessey.com/2010/04/15/off-the-rolls/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/business/economy/14leonhardt.html

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