Occupy Philly Deals With Allegations of Racism

By Matt Petrillo
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 15 | Posted Oct. 12, 2011

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Color bloc: Some protesters have created a People of Color Committee.

Photo by ada kulesza

Black activists within Occupy Philly have created a People of Color Committee largely because of (surprise!) differing views on the movement.

Pan-African Channel Andrews, a Philly native and activist who has been watching Occupy Philly from the outside while studying law at Barry University in Orlando, Fla., says the PCC was created, in part, because some organizers of Occupy Philly continue to buy “Mayor Nutter’s lies.” She says Nutter is taking advantage of the movement for his own political gain and that Occupy “need[s] to make demands to him and not just take pics with him.”

“Nutter is clearly using them … Nutter is the Wall Street of Philly,” she continues, adding that the racial disconnect extends beyond the Mayor’s Office “pretending” to care about Occupiers. “He’s done more damage to the people of Philly than Wall Street.”

She points to Occupy’s internal racial conflicts. “For white people or middle-class people, they’re just feeling the recession. It’s not because of the recession for us,” she says.

Andrews says that the formation of the PCC was inevitable after some supposed Occupiers called two black women—who were supporting Occupy—“niggers” because they had a black-only meeting on Saturday.

According to a post on the blog Complex Brown: “Saturday, two sisters were called Niggers by two of the volunteers at Occupy Philadelphia at the cell-phone charging stations. They were also told to go back to Africa, and that each white man should own a slave. When the sista’s called security, security asked them to leave the premises because they thought they were apart of the UHURU movement. Even if they were a part of that movement, they should not have been asked to leave. Especially without any mention of their verbal and spiritual abuse. So a small collective formed a drummer’s circle on Sunday and started a rally, only to be met with on-lookers who didn’t understand why there was a Pan-African flag at an “American” event. We were called racist … When we circled up to come up with a constructive way to address the people, we were constantly interrupted by white people who could not respect our safe space. These people said that it was a public space, and we couldn’t have a group that excluded them. Why is it when black people want to get together to work out our issues in our community we are called out? … We spoke out about RACISM IN THE 99 percent.”

PW can’t corroborate these allegations, but at this point it doesn’t matter what served as the catalyst for the formation of the People of Color Committee. Obviously, people of color here feel compelled to make their voices heard. And it has little to do with PW, contrary to what one Occupier told City Paper early Tuesday. Apparently, the protester said that the city’s alternative weeklies are “sleazy,” and alleged that we’re trying to “divide” their movement by calling out possible racial tension. You (Occupiers) may be upset that alleged tension in your movement may be undermining your goals, but to suggest that we somehow caused or created it makes you no better than every other knee-jerk American who blames the media for their problems.

Class will likely remain the common denominator in the Occupy movement, but ignoring the issue of race is insulting to all people of color.

The Occupy movements on Wall Street, in Philly and in most other cities lack any clear leader, and the division in Philly demonstrates what could become of an already complicated movement if a leader does not step up to unify Occupiers. Its current model, in which decisions are agreed by a general consensus, creates a inevitable minority, and neglecting to put a singular face to the movement could foreshadow its possible demise.

“Blacks say, ‘Should we join this? Do we want to be identified by this?’ Andrews says. “Blacks have been the 99 percent forever—since we’ve been in America. So we don’t identify with the same reasons. Solidarity is important, people should support each other. But it’s not just about class for us.” 

Visit us at our news & political blog PhillyNow for ongoing coverage of Occupy Philly.

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Comments 1 - 15 of 15
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1. Anonymous Trixie said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 07:49AM

“You might want to more clearly label this as Opinion. The headlines leads one to believe it's reporting, but parts are clearly just the writer's opinion. Such as You "...(Occupiers) may be upset that alleged tension in your movement may be undermining your goals, but to suggest that we somehow caused or created it makes you no better than every other knee-jerk American who blames the media for their problems."

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2. Josh Verlin said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 07:57AM

“This is not journalism, this is opinion, if only for the following statement:

"Class will likely remain the common denominator in the Occupy movement, but ignoring the issue of race is insulting to all people of color."

It is? Isn't ignoring race the thing we SHOULD be doing, as this movement is about class and not race? How can you say it doesn't matter what served as the catalyst for the People of Color Community? That is called journalism of verification, my friend--to say it doesn't matter when it's a key to the story is basically acknowledging your story is biased.

If you think that race is a key factor in this event, you're perfectly welcome to believe so. But don't you dare write something like that in a "news" article, as all you're doing is helping to further the racial argument by trying to force it into every "news-y." Even if race deserved to be here, you failed to let the story tell yourself and instead tried to teach us what to think, and that is poor journalism.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 08:07AM

“This article is in the News and OPINION section of the paper, in case you didn't notice...”

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4. Josh said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 08:39AM

“Yeah, under "news."”

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5. Josh said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 08:47AM

“Worst part is, this guy is the news editor for The Temple News (according to his Twitter), so he really should know better.”

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6. reclaimphilly said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 08:49AM

“I have been out at the protests each day and I am a supporter of the movement that is building. I know the issues around race will be something we need to continue to think about, talk about, and work on so we can build a strong multi-racial movement that makes real change in all of our lives, but especially people in poverty and the people of color who are most marginalized in our society. I just want it to be clear we, the movement, are taking race issues seriously. We do not want race to divide our movement. As such, People of Color and white anti-racists are working together to address these issues. There is a People of Color group meeting daily at 6 pm and a white-anti-racist group meeting at the same time. The groups will then meet together or report back to each other. There is also a workshop today for new activists, targeting white activists specifically, to address race and white privilege at 5:30. This training will be repeated on a regular basis. Solidarity!”

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7. Anonymous said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 09:03AM

“no mention of the black separatists that were trying to start fights the other night and offending any white person they could? Oh, I guess that is not racism? heh. The 99% is all inclusive, deal with it and stop spreading unsubstantiated rumors.”

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8. Dumbasses said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 05:34PM

“You idiots, it's analysis not opinion”

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9. Mark DsouthPhilly said... on Oct 12, 2011 at 09:43PM

“What a crap article, opinion, analysis ..whatever you wanna call this bull..
"no better than every other knee-jerk American who blames the media for their problems."... are you f'ing joking..... the Media in this country is a huge part of the problem.. and maybe take a few extra journalism courses over the winter break as well

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10. Anonymous said... on Oct 13, 2011 at 01:55AM

“I was the guy who said this was a public space. I had no interest in participating in their conversation, I just wanted to hear out their concerns. They told me I had to go over to the 'white alliance'. I laughed at them out loud. I looked at the white and black signs and all I could imagine was water fountains underneath them. it was very sad.

The movement is full of imaginative and intelligent people of all races, but there are some who are just fools. They chant "this is what democracy looks like". Then ask to form racial groups.

After it happened I warned the organizers of media picking this story up, but I guess that was too late..

In all respect, the woman who was leading the poc group was very understanding and thought the idea of white people not being able to at least listen in was absurd. She basically said "I'm sorry, some people here are nuts and we can't control what they say".

Welcome to Philly...”

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11. cn2004 said... on Oct 13, 2011 at 02:47PM

“This just goes to show that not even liberals can stomach those filthy apes.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Oct 13, 2011 at 07:44PM

“Bush caused this mess... OBAMA is keeping it going!
O what a mistake!”

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13. Anonymous said... on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:42AM

“So did your reporter talk to anyone who was actually there or this just based on the hearsay account that has been circulating on the internet? Are you sure that this hasn't been some COINTELPRO police hoax?”

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14. theatercritic said... on Oct 14, 2011 at 11:26PM

“Playwright Larry Myers
arrives via greyhound tomorrow presenjting his Catholic enlightened
v vibe on
occupy philly
an old Villanova guy
who was Shubert Playwright wih Tony winner david rabe
'his take on takeovers is

"Occupy Philly : St Germaine in 1776"

he did his own

"Adele Storms The Soup Kitchen " in DC
"War on Wall Street ; Seize The Future" inPOtown at site of Eugene On Neil
's Ptown Players 1st Progressive Drama in US
play is dialogue of 2 Ametrican Catholic dramtist O Neill & Tennessee Williams
other pre 2012 nouveau medievalmircle mrlity mysrtrey plays in his
"Wall Street Square"
"rihanna vists the miracle meatloaf ktchen"
" Gerorge Harrison stops by the Salvavtion Army"
myers rw2m playwrights lab LA San F has a
thaeter think tank hem thaeter collective”

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15. Andrew said... on Oct 15, 2011 at 09:50PM

“"Occupy Philadelphia", "Occupy Wall Street" and it's subsidiaries are about as racist as they come. The people behind this movement are nothing but a bunch of spoiled, trustafarian, racist, white liberals who do not want black Americans to succeed. Of course, these are the grandkids of the people who invented the high-rise housing projects; demonized fatherhood; glorified single motherhood; advocated abortion to control the black population; and led the ongoing lie that government can solve social problems. And where has that gotten us?

Look at how much these racist white liberals hate Herman Cain and egg on their subordinates to call him an "uncle Tom." Herman Cain is living proof that no matter how hard you enter this world, if God blesses you to be born in America, through hard work, Faith and perseverance, you can and will succeed.”


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