It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get as you walk through Independence Mall in the heart of Philadelphia and reflect upon the fact that you’re not only walking past Ben Franklin’s grave, but also across the very ground that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and so many others once trod. All in the name of independence. It’s beyond breathtaking—no matter how many times you make the trek.
Right now, however, that hallowed ground holds even more meaning—particularly as 2012 marks the 225th anniversary of the US Constitution and celebratory exhibits fill the National Constitution Center, which sits just opposite Independence Hall where both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were originally signed. Special exhibits in the Center currently include one with personal artifacts from The Boss, himself: “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land – The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen”. Independence Mall, however, is also where Occupy Philly is stationed. Still. And the significance is surely not lost on anyone.
Most people probably think Occupy Philly, along with all the other Occupiers, simply rolled up their sleeping bags and headed for working toilets at home. Sure, there’d be the die-hards whipping out their MSR Reactor Stove Systems for yet another ramen noodle-based dinner, but the rest of them? Gone, right?
Well, yes—but no.
Turns out the Occupiers don’t like freezing their tails off. Valley Forge this is not, after all. And so after moving to remote locales and continuing to stoke the fires of discontent, they’re back.
As with the pre-winter Occupy movement, it’s hard to find the bullseye issue—sure, it’s about corporate greed, corporate involvement in politics, the mortgage crisis and foreclosures, predatory lending, racial inequality, the economy, unemployment, disproportionate tax burdens—collectively summed up by the symbolic moniker of the masses: the 99%.
But any one of those issues could stand on its own as a cause celebre. And that’s been the challenge for the Occupy movement from the get-go—which issue is so central, so quintessential, that it could serve as the key rallying cry? It’s more or less the philosophical version of “jack of all trades, master of none”. And yet, in its ambiguity, there is indeed clarity—that something is very wrong in this country right now.
On the day that I visited Independence Mall (and Hall), there were only a few Occupiers out on the lawn—that’s them in the picture above (see more pics on our Facebook page). Their main focus: Wells-Fargo, the bank that’s surely seen its name in print a few times on LawyersandSettlements.com. Their primary beef: Wells-Fargo outpaces any other Philadelphia bank when it comes to foreclosures—this, after getting bailed out by the government to the tune of $25 billion.
The group, PHARE (Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy) —from #OccupyPhilly—has flyers circulating that invite you to “Join us in taking Wells Fargo to Trial”: June 13, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., Municipal Court, 1301 Filbert Street” in Philly. If you’re in town, you might want to stop by.
So Occupy Philly is indeed back—along with the peonies and clematis. And much like those perennials, the movement appears ready to keep coming back. But after all, when freedom is calling, don’t we all come back to it?