occupy allentown pa

Occupy Allentown In The West End

occupy allentownOccupy Allentown will start the second campsite at the intersection of Hamilton Blvd. and S. Ott St. in Allentown starting Saturday, November 26th.

Occupy Allentown, part of the larger “Occupy Movement“, an international social movement which is primarily directed against corporate greed and political corruption has been occupying space at the corner of 7th and Hamilton streets since October 3rd and has now elected to start a second occupation site on the west end of Allentown.

“The most prominent reason for starting a second location is outreach,” said Adam Santo, one of the groups’ organizers. ” We’ve garnered a lot of support at our current location, but it’s a big city, and not everyone knows we’re here, or more importantly, why we’re here.”

The group is also planning to occupy a third location near the Lehigh Valley Mall, but only for one day as the “Occupy Black Friday” on November 25th.  Members also plan to attend the cities upcoming open houses about the Allentown arena project.

When asked how long the group planned to protest, Craig Friebolin, another organizer who helps maintain the groups online presence at OccupyAllentownPA.org,  answered, “Longer than it takes to get a straight answer from most of our politicians”, alluding to the groups online campaign to get public responses from local politicians about the Occupy Movement. “So it might be a while”, he added. Of the eleven politicians contacted by Occupy Allentown, only two former city council members, who happened to not be seeking reelection had responded thus far. Both responded favorably.

Occupy Allentown Protestor Describes Visit  To New York on “Day of Action” Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

Thursday, Nov. 17,  2011, was amazing. Zuccotti Park seemed odd without the booths and tents set up but the mood was still as organized, and still as unified. The park looked gorgeous. Smiling faces, bright yellow leaves overhead. Listening to the drum circle, people dancing and talking. I can’t remember when exactly we got there but not long after people ran to where the drum circle was set up (before the eviction), yelling in excitement. People were running down the street, yelling join us. Everyone cheered.

Around noon was when a protester was attacked by riot police. We were standing near the middle of Zuccotti Park by the drum circle. Protesters started to yell, as I looked to my left I could see the shield of a police helmet over my head as he ran through the park. Everyone quickly surrounded. We could not clearly see what was going on.

The crowd began chanting “shame!” and someone in a tree above us tried to pass along information about what was going on but it was hard for him to see also. Everyone started being pushed back quickly and we managed to get out of the way without injury.

As we stepped back further we saw pepper spray being sprayed into the crowd and we watched as cops seemed to flood in from everywhere. Adam and I were standing next to one another, holding hands as a cop decided he needed to run into our arms to get to the other cops. My natural reaction was to hold Adam’s hand tighter. He grabbed our arms to force our hands apart (ripped my poncho). Later from witnesses who were standing closer, told us that the protester under attack simply kicked a barricade. Seems like a logical reason to chase him, make his head bleed and pepper spray the crowd for attempting to help him off the ground while HE IS SURROUNDED BY COPS IN RIOT GEAR.

Not too long after the incident, there was music again. People dancing. Singing… “there ain’t no party like an occupy party. Cause an occupy party doesn’t stop”… At one point, there were two older ladies, probably over 60, dancing with two younger guys. It was great to see generations come together to celebrate the cause.

Around 2:30 we marched from Zuccotti Park to Union Square. Little, soft-spoken me yelled and chanted for miles. “Who’s Streets?” “Our Streets!”… “Bloomberg Beware. Zuccotti Park is everywhere!” The mood was contagious. People who would normally have never met were connected for a cause, to fight for our country and our futures. We were followed and led by police officers. We heard people beeping, looking out of their windows at the crowd outside. Others went out on their balconies to cheer us on. Some on the sidewalk joined in on the chants, smiled, and offered words of solidarity. A lot of people were taking pictures. Some from their cars, and some standing on the streets.

When we got to Union Square, I could not believe the number of people who greeted us. There were thousands of people/students. The plan from Union square was to march to Foley Square to meet up with those from other boroughs and to march to the Brooklyn bridge. Protesters took to the streets.

We made it a block on 5th Ave, before being confronted with a police line. NYPD cars had already blocked the street. In a building to our right, students put up signs that read OCCUPIED. Everyone cheered, excited for the support. After Adam and I moved to the sidewalk, we saw even more police in riot gear begin to line the streets. To avoid arrest, we decided to head to Foley Square.  We walked a few blocks, warmed up, and got waters. We weren’t sure that we were headed in the right direction. We walked another block. I looked to my right and saw all the protesters from 5th Ave walking down the street. I couldn’t help but get a ridiculously proud smile on my face.

We walked with everyone else to Foley Square. Again, such a renewed sense of energy. Everyone so in-sink. So united. When we reached Foley Square, the number of people already there was insane. The entire park was full of people. 32,500 protesters – was the estimate from police scanners. A marching band playing. People were just flooding into the park. I was moved by everyone who came to the city to support the occupation.  We stood on the sidewalk in amazement. Like kids in a candy store.

We couldn’t stay for the march to the Brooklyn Bridge because of work but I am so happy that we made the trip up there. To just be a part of OWS for the day. It was exhilarating, inspiring, frightening at times, but worth every second. This is history in the making.

– Alyssa

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