Nick DeBenedictis Shall Pay

Today Occupy Philadelphia activists will be heading to the home of Aqua America’s CEO Nick DeBenedictis to tell him ‘No! We will not let you evict the people of Riverdale Mobile Home Village in Jersey Shore, PA.’ His company, Aqua America plans on removing the residents in hopes to build a water intake facility to siphon three-million gallons per-day from the Susquehanna River. The water will be used in a process called “hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction”, more commonly known as “fracking”. Riverdale is not alone. As corporations look for cheaper ways to attain energy more and more people will be put in danger. Either through loss of their homes,  their health put on the lines, etc. We must put an end to the endangering of people and the environment now! Put your foot down and say no! We won’t take it anymore! 

If you wish to join us at 5pm today please come to this address:

DeBenedictis Mansion, 231 Golfview Rd, Ardmore, PA 


Occupy National Gathering June 30th - July 4th. 
“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” - Mario Savio (Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964)


Me laying on the front steps of Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ as we are being told we need to leave. While marching we made contact with them telling us we were able to stay the night. By the end of our escapades we were told we must vacate by 9pm or face “the law”. You think dealing with the #D17 action and the conviction of Mark Adams who received 45 days in Rikers; occupiers would have learned a lesson. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM CHURCHES NAMED TRINITY! 

Occupy Philadelphia Pays A Visit to Aqua America CEO Nick DeBenedictis

In the little town of Jersey Shore, PA a storm is brewing. It’s not the type of storm one might imagine. It’s one of distraught and angry residents. You see, back in February of this year Aqua America INC. decided to purchase the deed to a piece of land where 35 mobile homes are located. The name of this small neighborhood is Riverdale Mobile Home Community. Aqua America INC. is planning on building a pump station that will siphon three-million gallons of water per-day from the Susquehanna River. This water will be used in the Marcellus Shale region for natural gas drillers. The eviction of Riverdale was slated for June 2nd but has been pushed back for unknown reasons. 

This is why on Friday my friend Nathan Kleinman made a call to action to show up at Aqua America’s CEO - Nick DeBenedictis’s Mansion in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Mr. DeBenedictis is an interesting man. From 1983 to 1986 he served as the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. Between: 1986 to 1989 he served as the President of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Also, from 1989 to 1992 was Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs of PECO.  

Five of the sixteen people that showed up had an idea. If we’re going to be protesting a CEO of a company who is creating a soon-to-be environmental disaster, why don’t we bike the 6.5 miles from West Philly to the location? So that’s what we did. Upon showing up, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Even if Debenedictis would be home? There was not much planning as far as we knew.     

Almost immediately we began making signs. One sign read: “3 million gallons of the Susquehanna River each day!? WTF???” another said: “Aqua: Frack off!” while the third read “Save Riverdale” and we posted them to the gate of his mansion. Someone mentioned going door-to-door to let his neighbors know what exactly Aqua America was up to, everyone agreed this was a good choice. A plan of action was coming together. 

Unfortunately on this day not many people were home; out of all the houses we canvassed one person had answered, an elderly woman.  She indeed was very receptive to our message and was shocked to find out what her neighbor has been a part of.  Almost everyone driving through the area had given us a friendly honk and raising a fist in support of the cause. 

Even after realizing we had general support from the community, unfortunately, the Commissioner for Ardmore lived right down the street and called out Haverford Township Police. Lieutenant Michael Glenn arrived, and in typical police fashion asked: “who is in charge?” We all responded with "Well, we all are” and proceeded with “We’re all John Smith” when asked for identification and/or names". The Lt. took it satirically as intended. 

  Lt. Glenn informed us we couldn’t keep the signs on Mr. DeBenedictis’s gate and we removed them willingly. He also advised us of an ordinance in Haverford Township that disallows door-to-door canvassing unless permitted [or] you are with a political party [or] religious organization. Luckily, we had one of the heads for the Green Party for Philadelphia, a 501© non-profit.

  The conversation with Haverford PD came to an end with Lt. Glenn telling us “he respects what we were out there to do” and that “he was glad that we were respectful and willing to have an open dialogue”.  Before leaving we wrote a letter to Mr. DeBenedictis and dropped it into his mailbox. This seems to be the first action directed towards the Aqua America CEO. More actions [maybe] in the works, as long as Riverdale is in danger of being evicted. Occupy Philadelphia is willing to stand in solidarity and do what it takes to keep them in their homes. 

The crew getting some signs together!

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The scene in front of Nick DeBenedictis’s mansion 
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The letter we left for Aqua America’s CEO 

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In it goes!
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I’ve been meaning to upload this for a few days but have been busy and resting. As soon as we reached Liberty Plaza for the final set by Guitarmy insanity ensued when Cpt. Winksi (accompanied by bullhorn) decided it was time to begin arresting people. First was a drummer who had attended the Occupy National Gathering and marched all the way from Philadelphia. He was on the edge of the plaza drumming by himself. Someone had mic checked up where everyone was and we all ran down immediately to where Brandon being grabbed and cuffed. Apparently the noise ordinance is still in effect. The older woman in the Lady Liberty outfit is his mother who is yelling at the NYPD to “let go of my son”. Unseen in the video is where she is shoved by the NPYD and falls to the ground unconscious due to exhaustion; and a journalist who captured the arrest. The mother also marched from Philadelphia. Later that night a woman was targeted by NYPD for knitting in the park. A man who came to her defense was then arrested as well as the live streamer who was documenting the brutality of the NYPD. As someone who has experienced the brutality of Cpt. Winski and his goon squad first hand (I was arrested during the 6 month anniversary weekend of OWS) I knew I was at risk for documenting the arrest. The NPYD has a record of attacking medics and journalists. 

Occupy the SRC!!

What I hope I said at yesterdays rally….

I don’t know if any of you noticed, but JP Morgan ‘misplaced’ $2Bn the other day.

That’s $2 Bn!!! And it will be $Bn’s more by the time the losses are added up.

They tell us we shouldn’t worry because JP can cover the losses

And what they can’t cover I’m sure they’ll get from the Fed Discount Window

They want to blame this loss on the bad judgment of a few individuals as if that is supposed to reassure us.

Lets put this in perspective: these losses will undoubtedly add up to more than the entire annual budgets for the City of Philadelphia and the School District. 

That means that a few individuals with bad judgement are making financial decisions that  are equivalent to the lives of 1.5 million people. 

I am not reassured by that. 

If this is a 'system’ it is broken.

JP and his buddies have taken more than $13 trillion from us over the past 4 years to cover their losses. Out of that they have paid themselves bonuses, satisfied their legal obligations and contracts and accumulated massive cash reserves that they have used to speculate on the market instead of creating jobs

While they tell us to tighten our belts and live within our means US corporations are siting on more than $1 trillion in cash.

What about OUR contracts? What about their legal, ethical, and moral obligations to us? Our children? Our schools and communities?

Apparently we are expendable, OUR contracts  open to renegotiation whenever it suits the need of the rich and powerful. But the debts to banks MUST be paid. If this is a 'system’ it is broken.

They tell us that the Philadelphia School district budget is 'structurally unbalanced’ while major corporations pay negative tax rates in the state of PA.

Verizon, Comcast, Wells Fargo? Fair Share? I’d be happy with any share at this point

Now there is no question that the 'status quo’ is broken and that our schools need reform. 

But they have had 10 years to fix this since they took control of the schools out of our hands.

There is no question that we need a real dialogue between educators, students, families  and our communities about what we want and need from our public schools.

There is no question that the 'promise’ of charter schools is attractive to parents and students.

But their is a huge difference between a  group of families and educators coming together to develop a school that fulfills their vision -  and the wholesale conversion and handing over of public schools to private contractors.

This is not reform, this is a corporate vision for the privatization and rationing of education. This is Jim Crow. This is union busting.  This is the theft of our children’s future. I don’t want these parasites, bond traders, stock speculators and corporate criminals controlling the education of our children.

We Need:

*Full funding for public education - Tax the 1% - Cancel the debts like we cancelled theirs!

*Dissolve the SRC - for democratic community controlled schools

*Rehire all laid off School District Employees

*No new charter conversions

*Charter school financial transparency and accountability

*Due process for students and families.

*Collective bargaining rights for charter school staff

Together we can build a vision of what public education should be in this city. Lets give them a summer they won’t forget!!

Occupy the SRC!!!

UN Warning the US of Human and/or Civil Rights Violations Regarding Occupy?

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two envoys called on U.S. officials to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall” and expressed concern that excessive use of force “could have been related to [the protesters’] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”


Philadelphia CAU & The Role(s) They Play In Movements

                While having a conversation with a friend of mine over a beer the other night about Occupy and all things included under that large umbrella, up came a conversation about the Philadelphia Police Department.  Mainly, the PPD’s Civil Affairs Unit (CAU). During a [private] conversation with one Occupier and Capt. of the CAU Stephen Glenn, the Capt. brought up some interesting things about the CAU. Prior to Occupy, most police had a huge disdain for the CAU. They saw them as completely unnecessary. The main job of Civil Affairs in Philadelphia is to have a “buffer-zone” if you will between civilians and police. In terms of Occupy- protesters and police aren’t generally interacting with one another. Civil affairs are the ones dealing directly with protesters. They are the ones who decide when the crowd is to get contained, stopped, arrested, etc. They are the PPD’s brain when dealing with Occupy, or other large actions by organizations, movements, and unions.
                This is interesting for two reasons. One being: in other large cities Occupy has grown increasingly stronger like OWS in New York City and in Oakland, in Chicago. But of course, they don’t have a CAU or something similar. Also, when police interact with protesters, it is almost always comes to a violent head.  But in Philadelphia, the movement that once was strong and vibrant, is now somewhat stagnant and trying to finding new ways to reinvigorate ourselves. Which leads to reason number two: while finding out more about this [private] conversation it seems that other cities are looking into how to create their own CAU and introduce the same tactics Philadelphia has. Other cities [it seems] have realized that militarizing their police in both tactics and in weapons is only making Occupy stronger and bringing more attention to our cause.
                I’ve noticed [personally] a drastic change in the way CAU has been run prior to Capt. William Fischer’s retirement and when Capt. Glenn [officially] took over the unit in March. It’s clear he has something to prove and now that other cities are looking into re-producing these same results; he isn’t going to be letting any slack go in the way he runs his unit. Also mentioned during this conversation was that if Civil Affairs fails for whatever reason to make the crowd dissipate then, more than likely the police would then come in swinging. So far, in terms of Occupy, the CAU, that so-called buffer-zone has been pretty successful.        
                I kept this in mind as I watched and took part in the “We Are One!” Union 1199C rally. Paying close attention to how the CAU dealt with both the crowds and how and when they dictated the officers to detain crowds and keep them from marching forward. Containing a march of approx. 3000 union workers who are upset that their contracts are being torn apart is no easy task. And judging both the crowds emotions and intent is vital on how they did it and when they did it.
                Perhaps this will give others some insight on what to except in other cities when and if they induct a civil affairs unit.  Or perhaps on how to deal with the situation in Philadelphia, as they seem to be good at picking key points and tactics on getting crowds to disperse or stop entirely.