1,000 jam city church, OK protest

Posted: October 04, 2011

"This is what democracy looks like."

That was the thunderous chant of about 1,000 protesters who packed the Arch Street United Methodist Church Tuesday night as they voted to begin Occupy Philadelphia at City Hall at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Supporters young and old turned out for the meeting to plan the next steps for Philadelphia's extension of New York City's Occupy Wall Street protests. Some said they foresee the movement catching on across the nation.

"This is the first time in my adult life I feel there's some hope," said Carol Finkle, 69, of Philadelphia. "This will grow. Watch what's gonna happen, in [young people's] lifetime and in mine."

Like some of New York's protesters, many of Philadelphia's plan to occupy City Hall 24/7 for its duration, pitching tents and camping there.

Many voiced opinions about the high visibility factor and access to government officials that made City Hall an attractive choice for the movement, and the majority voted by a show of hands to start the "occupation" there.

Zachary Hershman, 26, the West Philly teacher who helped run the meeting, had a message for politicians at all levels: "Look out," he said with a smirk.

As for Wall Street, Hershman said he wants to see people there "return the money they stole from the American people and invest it in health care, education and jobs for working people and families."

Protesters left the meeting with plans to form committees, and were assured by a legal representative that legal observers would watch the occupation and support arrested protesters. The representative also distributed "Know Your Rights" pamphlets to protesters.

Hershman said he foresees the movement achieving its goals, but only after a long fight.

"People who believe in human rights are the silent majority, and that's changing," he said.

"We can't afford to lose. Millions of lives are at stake."

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