They came looking for a fight, and all they got was, "I hear ya." Of course zealous protesters rarely have little else to do, so with an absence of discourse they decided to go rogue.
It's hard to say whether those camping at Dilworth Plaza had any clue that it was about to undergo a makeover starting in November. It was certainly convenient. Once they realized they weren't getting the kind of press they were looking for they decided to target the $55M project.
Joshua Albert told Metro Philadelphia, “The fact that they’re going to spend $55 million to renovate this when there’s so much else to spend the money on, I don’t think we’re leaving...not peacefully.”
What are they protesting? Wall Street or public beautification projects in Philadelphia?
Metro went on to quote Sean Rose, “They want to turn it into an ice skating rink. They didn’t pass a bill to make new libraries, but they passed a bill to make a rink.”
The Dilworth Plaza renovations are made possible by money designated for projects designed to bring tax revenue to cities that can go towards things like...libraries. A large portion of this project was funded by a grant set up for projects specifically like this one.
If you want to protest social spending, the new site of the Family Court is right across the street. The Parkway is under renovation. We've laid down hundreds of new bike lanes. We opened Race Street Pier. We're expanding the Schuylkill River Trail.
Why Dilworth Plaza?
Because they just happened to be there.
Stating that the money allocated for the Dilworth Plaza renovations should be funneled directly into a library fund is like telling me I shouldn't buy a Halloween costume when there are Philadelphians without new shoes. I feed my cat while people are starving in other countries. I own a car yet some people can only afford to take the bus.
Are they protesting an unethical corporate influence on Congress, or the very idea of capitalism?
Are they mad at GM for spending our tax dollars on private retreats, or are they upset that it's being used to clean up our city instead of funding unlimited unemployment for those too proud to apply for a job at Starbucks?
Occupy Wall Street had a message, one that Occupy Philly lost. If your gripe is with Wall Street, I can sympathize. But don't demand fiscal accountability in one breath and ask for a handout in the next.
I want to see more jobs.
I want to see responsibility.
I want to see action.
Dilworth Plaza's renovation is a weak and easy target, and one that will employ hundreds of people, and potentially bring thousands of tax paying tourists to 15th and Market.
There are public projects taking place all across the city right now, and none of them have anything to do with the criminal acts that led to our bleak economic climate. In fact, these projects are in an attempt to revive a little of what we lost.
As a socially minded, publicly funded project, using Occupy Philly to protest Dilworth Plaza's renovations is hypocritical, flying in the face of their overall message of social welfare.