Ten arrested at Occupy Philly sit-in at Comcast

A protester is hauled away from the Comcast Center, one of 10 people arrested. The demonstration jammed traffic in the area for hours.
A protester is hauled away from the Comcast Center, one of 10 people arrested. The demonstration jammed traffic in the area for hours. (HILLARY PETROZZIELLO / Staff)
Posted: November 03, 2011

Ten protesters were arrested during an Occupy Philly sit-in Wednesday afternoon at the Center City headquarters of Comcast Corp.

Several hundred people, including protesters and onlookers, watched the spectacle unfold at the Comcast Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Area traffic was jammed for hours.

About 1:30 p.m., nine protesters got into the lobby and sat for about an hour before being arrested. Another demonstrator had been arrested outside earlier.

They had marched from the Occupy Philly tent city at Dilworth Plaza in solidarity with a "general strike" organized by Occupy Oakland protesters after a police crackdown last week that left an Iraq war veteran with a fractured skull.

Among those arrested as Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey watched was a woman carrying a sign identifying herself as Diane Mohney, 66, of South Philadelphia.

During the protest, about 20 other Occupy members linked arms on the 17th Street sidewalk east of the city's tallest skyscraper. They chanted slogans and sang a song about solidarity to the tune of "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. Dozens of supporters milled about.

Bri Barton, 22, of Kensington, said the incident in Oakland and the arrests at the Comcast Center call attention to whom the police are serving - "people with massive amounts of property, also known as the 1 percent."

Julia Gross, 28, an Occupy member, said the group chose the Comcast building because the company does not pay property taxes. Comcast qualified for the city's tax-abatement program for new construction.

"It's not fair that in a poor city, a big corporation can get away with that," she said.

The protest also came hours after Comcast reported its revenues rose 4.9 percent, to $14.3 billion, in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, while profits increased 4.7 percent, to $908 million.

Police called in three vans to take those arrested at the Comcast tower to Police Headquarters at Eighth and Race Streets for processing.

At the headquarters, more than a dozen Occupy Philly members gathered outside to await the release of their comrades. Officers from the police Civil Affairs Unit stood nearby.

Several women who declined to give their names said no protest actions were planned at headquarters. They were there to offer support for the 10 who were arrested.

They sat on the sidewalk and placed orders for take-out.

Lt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman, said those who were arrested might be held overnight depending on the pace of the arrest processing. One protester, the first one to be arrested, was released Wednesday night.

Contact staff writer Reity O'Brien at 215-854-2917 or reobrien@philly.com

Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.