Week After Justice Dept. Occupation, ‘May Day’ Rally Coming to Philly
Thousands of people—according to reports—were in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest the Department of Justice and demand the immediate release of Philadelphia police officer murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal. A similar event will take place in Philly next week and protesters are calling it “May Day.”
Protesters, including Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Pam Africa and Johanna Fernandez (who recently released a documentary about Mumia Abu-Jamal), outlined what they feel is the racist mass incarceration system of the United States, using Abu-Jamal as a prime example, often calling him a political prisoner. Abu-Jamal was recently taken off death row and gave his first general population interview to Russian Television. In that interview, he called Occupy Wall Street a “damn good beginning.” Tuesday was a somewhat-celebration of Abu-Jamal’s birthday, and he called into the rally. Dude is 58.
Next week’s Philly operation, according to organizers, will be about both national and local issues. Activists associated with May Day are encouraging others to take off work or school to join in—the march is set to take place at 52nd and Market at noon.
“The Philadelphia School Reform Commission to close 64 public schools and privatize most of the rest! If this sounds familiar to those old enough to remember the school district’s failed experiment with Edison, this newest scheme should worry all of us,” reads an email encouraging participation in the event.
No one’s happy about the recent floatation to kill a bunch of Philadelphia schools by 2016. The Boston Consulting Group has recommended the said closings. In addition, the School Reform Commission has a plan in which school workers would see a 13 percent reduction in wages and benefits; charter schools would expand; and more blue collars workers within the school district would be laid off, according to some interpretations of the report. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers called the plan “a cynical, right-wing and market-driven plan to privatize public education.”
Other reasons they’re giving to attend the rally: It’s West Philly, after all.
“West Philly is no stranger to police brutality and state repression. In W. Philly’s Powelton Village in 1978, hundreds of heavily armed police attacked a MOVE house, opened fire on MOVE members inside, and pumped thousands of gallons of water and tear gas into the house to force people out,” reads another promotional piece for the march.
Also mentioned are the 1985 MOVE bombing by Philadelphia Police and the fact that more detention centers and law enforcement buildings going up in West Philadelphia—including a new ICE building at 41st and Filbert, Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 46th and Market and what’s being called a Youth Study Center (activists call it a detention center) at 48th and Haverford.
The march begins at 52nd and Market and plans to hit all the above-mentioned spots.