As Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations continue to grip the country, another unlikely movement is arising.
In Philadelphia, a homeless encampment has emerged along the Ben Franklin Parkway. The encampment is currently housing over 100 homeless individuals. The individuals have set up tents and are demanding fair and equal housing from the city.
“The unhoused are doing their part to protest and fight for the rights that they deserve. A lot of us are out here just kind of supporting their right to protest, supporting their right to housing and permanent housing,” one volunteer said.
Volunteers are stationed throughout the campsite to assist the homeless protesters with maintaining a clean area, ensuring that they have access to donations coming in as well as ensuring their safety.
“We just want permanent housing. That’s our main goal. We all want permanent housing. We’re not gonna stop until we get permanent housing. So if we have to stay here 2, 3 years, 5 years, we’ll stay here 3 to 5 years in these tents until we get permanent housing” one resident of the campground told independent journalist Jason Peters.
“We have an autonomous zone basically set up by the residents of Philadelphia, the unhoused residents of Philadelphia. After multiple attempts to talk to the city, negotiate with the city for permanent housing options, innovative options such as tiny housing and safe places to build community, they’ve decided to on their own with the support of allies such as myself and other Philadelphians, to set up an encampment as an act of protest” Alex Stewart, co-founder of Workers Revolutionary Collective (WRC) told the journalist. WRC works closely with the homeless population and stepped in for support.
If you’re interested in learning more about #CampMaroon & whats going on in Philadelphia – this is Alex Stewart of Revolutionary Workers Collective speaking about the encampment
I believe they chose “maroon” because of the color; hadn’t heard it as an insult since I was a child. pic.twitter.com/xlTtFvx21t
— jason n. peters (@JPeters2100) June 14, 2020
“This is about to literally be a community of Black Lives Matter. This is for the people who got thrown to the wayside. We all matter. We came together to let the city and world know that we matter,” said Jonnell Flowers, another one of the encampment residents.
With the help of WRC and Occupy PHA, another movement that advocates for fair housing, the group was able to form a list of six demands to the city which includes creating permanent low-income housing, sanctioning encampments as no-police zones, ceasing the clearing of encampments and firing police officers who mistreat the homeless.
Philadelphia is seeing an increase in its homeless population as rent continues to increase in the city, while income is not increasing at the same rate. Currently, there are approximately 5,700 homeless individuals in the city, 950 of whom remain unsheltered.