Lilac Philly

The Lilac Monthly News: September

By The Newsletter Group, Sept. 20, 2020
Photo from Camp JTD: "We're Staying Open!"
Photo from Camp JTD: "We're Staying Open!"

The People Deserve Housing!

Mayor Kenney and his allies in the PHA have been desperately trying to clear out three homeless encampments around the city. After narrowly losing an injunction from a federal judge, the city moved to evict residents of Camp JTD on September 9th. However, the organizers and residents stood strong and forced the city to back down. The encampment’s press release on September 10th made it clear that they’re determined to win.

“Mayor Kenney says that this encampment is unlike any other encampment the city had to deal with and that’s true. It’s true because this is not just a homeless encampment… This is a protest. This is a statement. This is an indictment on the city’s 100 year failure to deal with chronic homelessness in this city.”

After his failure to break up the camp, Kenney took to lying instead. He claimed that the encampments were a danger because of the coronavirus even though the CDC says it’s much more dangerous to disperse them. Now Kenney is trying to convince people that the camps are violent and resisting communication with the city, but the organizers have invited him to come talk which he’s declined to accept. The city even went so far as to add an option to 311 to report the encampments for nuisance violations; no surprise when the surrounding neighborhood is incredibly wealthy and 91% white in the poorest large, and majority-minority, city in America.

The people living in the camps have been open with their stories. The city’s shelters are not safe and expose people to bedbugs and food poisoning. The encampments on the other hand provide tents, good food, clothing, and the ability to social distance. Lilac and the Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition believe that the residents of the camp have the right to do what’s best for themselves. Check out our statement of support! Follow them on twitter @ https://twitter.com/PhlHousing for updates on supplies needed and how you can help.

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Local News Summaries and Links

  • A majority of the faculty at the University of the Arts have signed union cards with the United Academics of Philadelphia (UAP), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. With 76% of its faculty working as adjuncts, U. Arts is one of the most abusive academic employers in the city. Part-time faculty say that union wages, benefits, and collective bargaining powers will help them to ensure that students get a high-quality education. The university administration has declined to voluntarily recognize the union.
  • A report was released in July that reveals which Philadelphia police officers have the most complaints against them, further exposing Philadelphia’s unusually corrupt police force. About 85% of civilian complaints are rejected and the records show that complaints do not seem to affect the upward mobility of officers on the PPD. This month, Inspector James Smith was accused of assaulting someone while off duty. Also, former PPD officer Sean Renaldo Stewart has been charged with the ongoing statutory rape of a 13 year old victim for 3 years between 1996 and 1999.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to be counted, and allowed counties to continue to use drop boxes in the November election as they did in the June primary. The law states that mail-in ballots must be received by 5 PM election day, but the court ruled that ballots must be counted if they are received by 5 PM on the Friday after the election, provided they were postmarked on Nov. 3rd.
  • The Philadelphia Public Bank Coalition, which includes organizations such as POWER and Reclaim Philadelphia, has called for the city to create a publicly owned bank. The city could deposit its revenue into its own bank, acquire loans from the same bank, offer loans to the public at a lower interest rate and generate profits that could be reinvested in local projects.
  • Kendra Brooks’ Public Health Emergency Bill has passed! It extends two weeks of sick pay to gig workers, healthcare workers, contractors, and people who work for companies with more than 500 employees.
  • Philadelphia’s eviction moratorium ended on August 31 and landlords who began an eviction process during the pandemic are now able to lock out tenants. Though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put a stay on some evictions, it remains unclear how the CDC’s moratorium will be implemented. Housing advocates, including the Urban League of Philadelphia and Community Legal Services recommend these steps to avoid eviction: understand the step-by-step eviction process in Philadelphia, submit a declaration to the landlord of eligibility for the federal eviction moratorium, take advantage of the city’s Emergency Housing Protection Act, apply for COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance, and seek assistance from local organizations that advocate for tenant rights.
  • Not only has the odious memorial to former Mayor Frank Rizzo has been removed from the plaza in front of the Municipal Services Building, but an inspiring new work of art called “The Crown” now hovers over the main entry way of the same building. In this work by local artist Russell Craig, people of all races wear masks, have their fists raised, and determination in their eyes. Behind them is a list of the Black people who have died from police shootings. This new work of public art was commissioned by Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project.
  • 82% of public school students logged into virtual school on the first day of classes, and the city has opened 31 “access centers” to give students a place to get supervision and do virtual schoolwork. Forty-six more centers will open soon. The Free Library of Philadelphia has opened Spanish and World Languages eReading Rooms. To access this new resource, visit https://freelibrary.overdrive.com. Ars Nova Workshop, Philadelphia’s long time presenter of new jazz and contemporary music, is working on live streaming local musicians and other virtual music programs. An awesome new music video on YouTube by flutist Tim Munro features the post-apocalyptic looking interior of the ocean liner, the SS United States, moored on the Delaware River in South Philadelphia.

Solidarity,

The Lilac Newsletter Group