By Suzy Subways
August 30, 9:45 pm
Image caption: Activists gather to support residents of the new Homeless Against Stop and Frisk houses this morning, as political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal goes back to court in Center City. Photo courtesy of Homeless Against Stop and Frisk.
Homeless Against Stop and Frisk, a group formed by people holding down the Occupy ICE encampments this summer, moved into two Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) houses on Sunday night, in search of a place to live and continue their organizing. They are now facing eviction. This morning, about 30 supporters rallied in front of the houses, expecting PHA and police. None came, and the eviction has not happened, for now.
On Wednesday, PHA issued a notice to vacate the two houses in the Sharswood neighborhood in lower North Philly. The houses are two of roughly 1,300 properties in the neighborhood that PHA seized using eminent domain in 2015, forcing residents to move out. PHA planned to build new housing there, including homes that would not be affordable to current neighborhood residents. Nothing has been built on the block in the several years since.
The activists and supporters have worked on the two houses over the past few days to make them livable. Plumbing and electricity, with a running sink, toilet and shower — along with a washing machine, microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator — make the houses a home for the organizers, many of whom have lived on Philly’s streets for years.
A front window proudly displays a banner demanding “End Stop & Frisk” — which activists have added to the three ongoing demands of the Occupy ICE movement in Philadelphia. These demands are an end to the city’s PARS agreement, which shares information with ICE about people arrested in Philly (the movement won this demand, as the PARS agreement is set to expire tomorrow and Mayor Kenney has announced the he will not renew it); closing the Berks family detention center; and abolishing ICE entirely.
PHA officials didn’t arrive to evict those living here today, but they may come tomorrow. Urgent support is needed tomorrow (August 31) morning to show the city that the movement has the love of Philly residents who don’t want them to be evicted. And, if PHA doesn’t come tomorrow, support will be needed Tuesday morning after the long weekend. Please share this blog post and stay tuned for how to support the formerly homeless residents.
For more information, including interviews with the newly housed activists and their new neighbors, visit https://occupyicephl.wordpress.com.
Update Friday, August 31: PHA evicted the activists and boarded up the houses this morning.
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