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Activist Communiqué: Occupy Fourth of July American conference

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A few months ago, a state-wide call went out across the United States to gather all occupiers together for a national conference in Philadelphia that ran from Saturday June 30 to July 4, 2O12.

It was a chance for Occupy Wall Street and all its sister movements to gather at the historic Independence Mall for a series of demonstrations and workshops ending with a large demonstration on American Independence Day. On Twitter, they occupied the hashtag #NatGat where you can find additional updates on the gathering.

Occupy Philly had a camp at their city hall that ran from the original US start date of September 15, 2012 and was shut down last November of the same year.

The demonstrations were first imagined by the activist/publishing group Adbusters who took their inspiration from the Arab Spring movement and the Spanish Indignants protests which started on May 15, 2011, throughout Spain. Occupy was framed as, "This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America."

It's been a while, so here is a link to the backgrounder for the Occupy movement that I wrote last year.

According to the Washington Post, "The national gathering is endorsed by more than 100 Occupy groups across the country. Organizers have kept in touch through a networking communication system known as "inter-Occupy," using conference calls and other means of communication, said Tammy Shapiro, a member of Occupy Wall Street.

Larry Swetman, a member of Occupy Philadelphia, said the conference will feature teach-ins, workshops, and protests, including one in which participants will march to the Comcast Center. On the fourth day, Swetman said, protesters will come up with a list of priorities and goals that will likely cover a broad range of issues including health care and housing. Ultimately, a group of protesters plans to lead a 99-mile march to Wall Street on July 5."

There was another non-Occupy endorsed Occupy related conference in Philadelphia by The 99% Working Group called the Continental Congress 2.0 from July 2 to July 4, 2012.

A total of 787 delegates were expected into the city to attend one of the two Occupy conferences. Delegates camped out for five days in the eastern half of Franklin Square.

There were marches through downtown Philadelphia, with the largest march being on the Fourth of July.

The Philadelphia Police Department reported that twenty-six Occupy Philly demonstrators were arrested around 9:00 pm on Sunday July 1, 2012, after a spontaneous "solidarity" march broke out, with support to the "NATO 3. Charges range from disorderly conduct to obstructing a highway.

Shortly before the May 20, 2012, NATO Summit in Chicago, three men from Occupy Chicago - now known as the ‘NATO-3' - were charged with providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and possession of explosives or incendiary devices.

The NATO-3 (Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly) are accused of plotting to use Molotov cocktails to firebomb Obama's campaign headquarters, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house, and other financial institutions during the NATO Summit.

After being pushed from Independence Mall to Franklin Square by the police, Occupy Philly hosted the largest march of the conference on American Independence Day.

The march started again at 9:00 pm as 2,000 occupiers took to the streets. Occupy Philly confirmed they know of two arrests from that night.

General complaints around the conference settled on the excessive amount of police mobilized against the five day conference, with reported standoffish police doing their best to let the occupiers know they were not welcome in Philadelphia.

Today, starting from Franklin Park, 100 people from Occupy Philly began their 99-mile route march from the Liberty Bell to Wall Street in downtown New York. Their goal is to arrive by next Wednesday.


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