Veterans Stand Their Ground at #NatGat

Search form

Veterans Stand Their Ground at #NatGat

Veterans Stand Their Ground at #NatGat
Mon, 7/9/2012 - by Mattymoo
This article originally appeared on Occupied Stories

Philadelphia, PA, July 8 – Last night I saw one of the most beautiful moments of my entire 40 years on earth. Veterans for Peace and Occupy Marines acquired a permit to have a canopy and information table on Independence Mall next to the First Amendment monument. They have been there 24 hours a day since Saturday. Yesterday afternoon the National Park Service notified the veterans that their permit had been revoked and that they would be evicted from their spot in front of Independence Hall at 9 p.m.

News spread quickly among the Occupiers, who have been camping on the grounds of an historic site owned by the Quakers at 4th and Arch Streets during the night and gathering at the city-owned Franklin Square Park at 6th and Race for workshops and festivities during the day. We asked the veterans to let us know what we could do for them to stand in solidarity. They were determined not to be removed from the space that they believe their brothers in arms had died to defend so Americans could assemble, engage in free speech and petition their government for a redress of grievances.

“That tent and info table will remain there until we have been physically dragged out of the park and the National Park Service comes in with a bulldozer,” one of them said. Because Independence Mall is federally owned land, any act of civil disobedience there will land you in a federal detention center with very serious charges and very high bail. Nevertheless, another veteran said, “I signed up to die for the right to stand here. Jail is nothing compared to death.”

By 8 p.m. the presence of park rangers, park service and city riot police, bike cops, U.S. Marshals and Homeland Security forces began to escalate dramatically. A few minutes before 9 p.m. the veterans met with park officials at the edge of the park. It was a tense five minutes as the 20 or 30 of us who were there in solidarity awaited the results of the meeting. When the veterans from the meeting returned, a mic check was initiated and the vets announced that the park rangers would take no action until 11 a.m. the next morning, when a higher-ranking park service official would meet with them to negotiate a possible compromise. Imminent eviction had been avoided, our fate still left to hang in the hands of some unknown bureaucrat, to be determined by his or her whim in the morning.

Just moments after the announcement, a march of 400 occupiers led by a Revolutionary War-style drummer came around the corner. We ran to greet them and inform them that what had looked like it would be a massive confrontation was now a celebration. Shouts of joy rang out among the mass of Occupiers as they joined us in a now-festive celebration of solidarity with the veterans and the temporary retreat of the Park Service.

As songs, mic checks and even a hula hooper reveled on the sidewalk in front of the Vets for Peace canopy tent and info table, an extremely large contingent of police officers and federal agent remained all around us. About 20 riot police in full gear stood in formation just feet away from us, staring robotically straight ahead. The veterans asked us to move back 10 feet from the line of riot cops and promised us that the vets themselves would form a line of protection between the riot cops and us. As soon as that arrangement had been made, the riot cops turned and marched in formation out of Independence Mall, to rapturous cheers and clapping from all who had gathered.

The celebration continued for at least an hour before the veterans mic-checked us and asked anyone who wanted to remain overnight in solidarity do so by sleeping across the street, off of federal land, in front of the regional headquarters of Wells Fargo. Walking past on my way to the train for a quick pit stop at home, there were at least 30 groggy occupiers waking up from a night of sidewalk sleeping. I will return shortly and all of us, Occupiers and Veterans for Peace, will await the results of the meeting at 11 a.m. today.

It is impossible to describe the joy and beauty that I witnessed last night. I had a lump in my throat and am still beaming with positive vibes even though I, too, am exhausted after my third night of sleeping on the ground in a Quaker parking lot.

Article Tabs

It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

In a new study released last week, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty tracked laws in 187 cities over the past five years and found an uptick in nearly every type of anti-homeless ordinance.

After winning 1.2 million votes, Spain's newest political party wants to raise minimum wages, abolish tax havens, nationalize banks rescued with public funds and establish a guaranteed minimum income.

Labeled a “hate group” by progressive social and political organizations, the Alliance has amassed a substantial track record marginalizing LGBT equality efforts and attacking women’s reproductive rights.

The Premier of the Province, Kathleen Wynn, is being given another chance to respond to growing calls from the Indigenous community to protect their Territorial Rights.

In the 80s and 90s they called them "IMF Riots" – but what the biggest international investment organizations and consultants now see happening looks a whole lot bigger.

Posted 4 days 10 hours ago

The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist interviewed Harvard professor and MayDay SuperPAC founder Lessig Lawrence about his plans to break the hold of big money on American elections.

Posted 6 days 10 hours ago

A New York shell fisherman is fighting back against retribution for speaking out against environmental violations.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago

Part 3: Chris Hedges interviewed Harvard professor and MayDay SuperPAC founder Lawrence Lessig about his plans to break the hold of big money on American elections.

Posted 4 days 10 hours ago

Patient details were shared with organizations including private health insurance companies, many based in the United States.

Posted 4 days 10 hours ago

The company's legal team is working overtime to keep the company’s Arctic work secret from advocacy groups like Greenpeace -- most recently, by appealing to California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to curb protester rights.

Between 2008 and May 2013, more than 1,800 bank branches shut down nationwide, 93 percent of them in low-income neighborhoods.

The new 192-page book documents the activities of Occupy Austin and includes photographs of marches, arrests, assemblies, court trials, the camp itself and even law enforcement infiltration.

What's happening to Detroit should not be considered an isolated incident — the product of corrupt government, crime, or mismanagement — but the result of economically unfair structural conditions that apply to the entire nation.

Inequality-Fighting Lawmakers Won Big in Election

House members who got A+ grades for working to narrow America's economic divide were rewarded last week with election victories.

Sign Up