Locals join Occupy Philly movement


“Representatives can’t vote in the interest of the citizens because they are bought,” Anna Frangiosa said Friday afternoon at Center City’s Dilworth Plaza.

The former resident of 11th and Tasker streets then waved an American flag bearing a “Join Us” sign on a march to Rittenhouse Square. Hundreds from the two-week-old Occupy Philly movement, a reaction to a plethora of societal issues, joined her.

The excursion culminated their ninth day of attempts to convince corporations and government entities to place people before profits. The protesters believe so fervently in achieving resolution for their diverse gripes, nearly 300 tents line the area. They have chosen no spokesperson but maintain their idyllic setting through committees and trainings.

Rain sheltered many members, but most continued promoting their “We are the 99 percent” philosophy, a reflection of the disparity between the nation’s top earners and everyone else. Fans of transparent agendas might find the occupiers confusing, as they have not solidified a concrete message, though Frangiosa said one soon will appear.

“We want to be inclusive to all the people who are pissed off,” the theater performer said of welcoming railers against corporate greed, school loan debt and staggering unemployment, among other woes.

The backlash began Oct. 6 as an offshoot of New York City’s Occupy Wall Street undertaking. The latter commenced Sept. 17, drawing its inspiration from the Arab Spring uprising that has sought to stem corruption in the Arab world. Violence has plagued the foreign demonstrations, but Occupy Philly stresses nonviolence, as do the other national movements, which Occupy Wall Street’s website puts at more than 100.

Frangiosa, once a board member on the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District, senses the local version is gaining strength, though planned renovations to Dilworth Plaza, which was abuzz Friday with areas distributing information, will likely relocate her colleagues.

The North Philly resident cited Occupy Philly’s main mission as driving corporate money out of global politics and decried its effect on national matters, too.

“People are upset about many things,” she said, noting she despises corporate contributions’ influence on America’s education, health care and sense of safety.

Occupy Wall Street took its ultimate cue from Adbusters, the Canadian-based Adbusters Media Foundation’s magazine. Many deem the publication excessively liberal and anti-capitalist, but Frangiosa refrained from dubbing the overall movement as an endorsement of the political left and a condemnation of the right.

“I want no problems with any form of government,” she said. “I just want people to stand up for what they believe in now.”

Critics say Occupy Philly will wane, but Frangiosa knows success will come if more people pay attention to their surroundings.

“The Wall Street protests are growing,” she said. “Ours will follow.”

Frangiosa often designs signs for fellow fuming occupiers, though she distributed none Friday. Regardless, the plaza contained dozens of descriptive reminders of the burgeoning movement’s views such as “Burn your credit cards” and “You’ll be poor soon.” The disgruntled denizens welcomed new considerations, as an information table blared a “What’s the message? You tell us” sign. A “Healthcare Not Warfare” placard appealed to Sean Mackin.

“I agree with their views,” the resident of 19th Street and Washington Avenue said while passing through the occupiers’ family zone.

He had relied on news accounts before making his first stop the previous day. He initially felt the area “looked like a shantytown” but believes the protesters’ message matters more than aesthetics. The employee at ACME, 1901 Johnston St., found the group’s fighting for job creation admirable, as 14 million Americans are unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure and other dilemmas inspired the occupiers’ march to raise awareness about corporate taxes, rampant consumerism and Saturday’s Global Day of Action. Knowing they would be hungry upon returning, food committee member Erika Bell readied her station.

The resident of the 1500 block of South Myrtlewood Street is making involvement in Occupy Philly her biggest activist action. The Community College of Philadelphia culinary arts major inherited her responsibilities at an organizational meeting and enjoys that her role lets her nourish bodies while her overall participation sates her desire to rebut the status quo.

“I have a friend within the financial district in New York City, and there was a media blackout of the Occupy activity,” the 20-year-old said of her motivation to join. “How could people not report on this movement constantly?”

A member of South Philly Food Not Bombs, which offers free vegan and vegetarian meals to protest poverty and war, Bell divides her days by spending time among her colleagues, tending to her Grays Ferry residence and working. Each day at Dilworth Plaza builds her belief the community’s messages will prevail.

“We welcome all opinions,” she said of commentary on Occupy Philly’s political allegiance. “We have conservatives, liberals, socialists and anarchists among us.”

They all have eager appetites, so the committee, relying on donations, with gluten-free products, nonperishable goods and produce dominating, never lacks tasks. She confessed summarizing Occupy Philly’s reasons for ranting proves difficult but noted everyone desires one outcome.

“I suppose I would say the general thing would be change,” Bell said. “Change that lasts.”

For more photos of Occupy Philly visit www.southphillyreview.com/multimedia/Occupy-Philly-132253733.html

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124.