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I Saw What Nobody Else Saw Because I Asked What Nobody Else Asked

“Are they all actually homeless Philadelphians or not?” That was my main question about the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment. The national news is not covering this story about Philly homelessness at all. Compared to videos of police killing people, I guess this isn’t as sensational. However, in our city, this is a big deal that people have a lot of misinformation about.

The TL;DR version of this article answers my question with a simple, “No.”

Not all of the people at the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment are homeless Philadelphians. I had been waiting for anybody at any news outlet to ask this question to get the actual answer. But I didn’t get an answer to that question from any reporter. In fact, reporters told me that I should go down there to ask my own questions about the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment myself.

So I did…

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Blood, Sweat, and Tear Gas

There were (2) main incidents in Philadelphia involving tear gas this year.

  1. You can view the NBC10 coverage of the 676 incident here. The city also provided a fake mea culpa sweeping it under the rug.
  2. WHYY talking about how the NAACP is suing the city covers the use of tear gas in the neighborhoods around 52nd Street.

The city looked very bad in the eyes of the Philadelphia liberal public. Many people wanted to see these rioters, protestors, and instigators have their way with the city. The incident on 676 occurred after the unlawful obstruction of a major highway. Thousands of (mostly white) people chanted “I can’t breathe!” blocking traffic and terrorizing people.

52nd Street’s situation was even more egregious. Police decided to tear gas a neighborhood while acquiescing to mobs that were looting. Furthermore, those same people stole cop cars, robbed police equipment out of those vehicles while police watched. Some police officers had to dodge their own cruisers as people were crashing them into each other. To my knowledge this is the only incident like it in the country.

Watch the video of people destroying police property here.

Police allow their vehicles to be stolen, and destroyed, in West Philadelphia.

Either the city officials were completely inept, or they are complicit in this lawlessness. That continued to nag at me as I asked myself about where all the people who came in astro-turfing in Philadelphia were going afterwards? Would they head back to wherever they live? Or would some remain in the city and continue their demonstrations? Once the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment opened up, that became obvious to me.

Setting Up Camp

News coverage flocked to promote this social justice mission, without doing any kind of real journalistic reporting. What I found most disturbing about the coverage of the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment, was how callous local journalists were about the whole thing. Voters who are being courted by Democrats, and the progressive movement, are being absolutely bamboozled, left behind, and abused.

White Male Reporter White Washes Homelessness For Philly, Weakly

Homeless In Philly PW Fake Cover
This was the cover of Philadelphia Weekly August 20 – 27, 2020

So I’m walking down the street and I see a PW news distribution box with this cover that showed a haggard older white man in a hood. The picture is compelling. A line reads, “Homeless in Philly,” next to his face, and the headline for the featured story says, “summer CAMPS.”

Any normal person reading this would think it was a picture of a person living at the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment. Interested, I picked it up, and took it home. I read it cover to cover. What I found was astonishing, disturbing, and dangerous to everybody living in Philly.

Philly Weekly Is Shallow, Under Cover

Old White Homeless Man Not From Philly
This is a stock image you could easily find by searching “old white homeless man in a hood.”

This image which PW used for their cover, to sell their newspaper, is a stock image. It is not a picture of a person who is living at the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment. The cover is a lie.

The newspaper was too cheap, lazy, and unethical to get their own portrait photographer. It didn’t get any better the further I went in the paper, either.

I am the first person to mention this also. That means thousands of people could have been deceived by it without noticing.

Fake Cover, Fake Lead In, WTF?

White Homeless Man No From Philly
Do you see that quote? They are attempting to attribute it to the stock image of a white man with his thumb down, which is exactly how I feel about the lies in this local newspaper.

The most important image to sell a newspaper is the cover. That cover image sold me. I wanted to read the featured story, which is supposed to be about the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment. It is not supposed to be a gallery of stock images of homeless people from all over the world.

The paper also used several other stock images to white-wash this situation. I found “homeless woman with dreadlocks and dog.” But the most egregious & amoral choice they made was (below) falsifying “Beast’s” identity.

Not Beast From Philly PW Paper
Beast isn’t white, and there are not that many pigeons at the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment. This picture is from France, actually.

Who Is Responsible For These Little White Lies? Some Little White Guy

Jason N. Peters Is Not A Philly Icon Like Beast, The Man He White-Washed
Jason N. Peters

Meet Jason N. Peters, the freelance “journalist” who wrote this piece.

I challenged him on the authenticity of his article on Twitter. This section includes a breakdown of that unpleasant interaction – if you missed it.

Peters’ general demeanor towards me and the subjects of his story was unprofessional, but typical of his kind. This type of confrontation is routine in my experience, dealing with journalists of all ages, but especially the younger ones. They all feel this sense of self-importance. Most of them don’t deserve adulation & praise, though.

Peters’ work is sloppy, irresponsible, self-serving, and blatantly politicized trash. In this case it also came out offensively racist. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is this kind of nonsense has stood in the way of the homeless actually getting the help they need.

You can read the entire thread here.

They’re Answering The Wrong Questions Because They Never Asked The Right Questions In The First Place

Beast In Philly From Jason N. Peters Video
Jason N. Peters’ footage of Beast, demonstrating that he 100% talked to the man directly…for a grand total of approximately 31 seconds.
My Text About Beast In Philly Poem From Jason N. Peters
I was not satisfied with Peters’ response, which took him by surprise.

My main accusation was that Peters wrote the poem, not Beast. It looked to me like Peters, a typical dishonest Philly journalist, lied about not writing the poem. If you were wondering if Peters is a poet, he’s not. But he still tried to publish a book of poetry called, “Life of a Giant.” In our repartee on Twitter, I did take it upon myself to mock his work heavily.

This is a satirical meme I made disrespecting Peters’ book.

His retort? He said he and Rushing both interviewed the same person. That only proves that they both talked to the same man. It does not prove the poem is authentic at all.

Rushing & Peters are both smart enough to know how to avoid a direct question. But that makes these two more politicians or activists rather than real journalists. Unfortunately, that too, is typical. I wondered if Beast really wrote the poem because it wasn’t credited properly and the photo Philly Weekly represented him with was of an old white man from France.

Why should I trust them to not fabricate a poem? They lied about so much else already. It’s harder to repair trust than it is to break it. It doesn’t get easier to trust a dishonest writer if their reaction is to be immature and defensive, either.

This (Whole) Thing Is (Not) A Lie

Not Beast From Philly Again Picture
That is not Beast. It is a stock image. But “Beast” does really exist.

There are really homeless Philadelphians living on the Parkway. But not all of the people living on the Parkway are homeless Philadelphians. A lot of them only came to Philly for protests, riots, and other activity that has nothing to do with homelessness. Philly Weekly either doesn’t know that or doesn’t care, because they’re not real news.

French Man Stock Image Not Philly Homeless
This is the full stock image that Philly Weekly used to represent “Beast” because Jason N. Peters was too inauthentic to get to know Beast on a human level so they had to use stock images.

I mean, they did flip the picture. They edited the color a little bit too. Cropped it significantly so you could only see the man looking directly at the poem. That barely qualifies as art direction. It could be a cool look, if you were making marketing materials about raising money for the homeless across the world or something. But as a news story? It’s just a lie. This picture is not of the author of the poem, and they want you to think that he was. That is dishonest, fake news reporting. When people talk about fake news, it is often too general or based on very inflammatory issues. A stock image sounds innocent, and is not illegal to use in every context or in every business. It is just wrong to purposely give an audience the wrong impression about something as important as this in the news.

As a result of exposing the falsity in this story, the writer chose to respond with a Sebastian Maniscalco GIF calling me an idiot.

Sebastian Maniscalco GIF About My Philly Weekly Critique
The only idiotic thing I did was pick up a Philly Weekly feature written by this young hack.

Their Ignorance Knows No Bounds

When asked for evidence from Peters, as to whether or not he knew if Beast was even from Philly, or really homeless, he replied.

Certification Of Homelessness In Philly
First he said that he doesn’t publish the paper. Now he’s telling me that he chose specifically not to publish any pictures of Beast’s “Certificate of Homelessness” – sarcastically, as it were.

Leaving aside his unnecessary snarky response, he’s also ignorant about something very important to people experiencing homelessness in Philly.

There is a literal certification of homelessness. Download it for yourself.

For the people at the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment, it could be a very useful document. It is provided by the city of Philadelphia. They do this to verify people’s homelessness & housing status. It is critical to providing the necessary services people need without having Philly taxpayers be the victim of fraud or waste. But do you see the arrogance from this person? He obviously believed that this was a preposterous notion, because he didn’t care enough to even look. Peters is also obviously no expert on Philly homelessness if he doesn’t know anything about these documents.

Peters continues making a fool of himself, though.

Philly Weekly Is Only Free Because It Has No Value
Many people get away with corrupt actions because they mask it in their own linguistic paradigm. When you shatter that, their illusion falls away pretty quickly.

Peters is a freelance writer. He doesn’t own the paper. At a certain point I decided to take matters into my own hands. That’s when I confronted the paper’s leadership directly and got confirmation they know they’re lying.

Philly Weekly Accepts My Offer, Proving They Are Only ~16.7% Authentic News

You can read the actual email I received from Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Ed Lynes, copying the paper’s owner Dan McDonough, too.

Philly Weekly Email From Ed Lynes
Despite the promotion they sent me, their print paper advertises (4) Instagram stories and (4) ads in the paper for $99. Once I asked for that at my rate, they stopped responding to me.

Though comical, the line about ensuring this money goes to increase their editorial and photography budgets, is nonsense. I haven’t been a customer because their paper had a bad reputation in Philly. I’m not going to be a customer because they won’t call me back anymore. But it would be hard to trust anything they say. For example, how do I verify they actually print the promised number of ~28,000 copies in Philly every week? That’s the predicate for the value of their paper. Everything they say is suspicious.

TAKE ACTION: Stop Fake News In Philadelphia

If you’re as disgusted as I am about this, there is something you can do. I have already begun the process of creating a complaint about Philadelphia Weekly and their fake news. One of the appropriate authorities to take action with for false advertising claims is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the case of Philadelphia Weekly, anybody can advertise in there. An individual person. A corporation. Non-profit. So even though the paper is “free” it is still advertising to you. They are also carrying liability with all the advertisers in the paper who are supporting the distribution of dangerous fake news. Worse of all they lied about homelessness in Philly.

Please call the FTC to complain about this. They only take action once a group of people make the same complaint. They need to know that this is a pervasive problem in the city for citizens here.

☎️ 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

Call that number and tell them that you just learned that Philadelphia Weekly was advertising its paper with false images of homeless people and you want to join the complaint.

They will ask for the following information as well.

  • REFERENCE #: 122592423
  • PHILLY WEEKLY ADDRESS: 1520 Locust Street, 5th Fl. Phila., PA 19102
  • PHONE NUMBER: 215-543-3743
  • EMAIL ADDRESSES:
    • OWNER Dan McDonough dmcdonough@philadelphiaweekly.com
    • CRO Ed Lynes elynes@philadelphiaweekly.com

The more people that join together, the closer we will be to getting justice. Fake news must be stopped because it has a very real human cost. We are seeing that now on display within the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment and the fake news coverage distorting it. This prevented people from getting help they need while homeless. They are being used as political pawns and fodder for fake news journalists. It’s disgusting and shameful.

Ellie, Rushing To Judgment, Without Inquiring At All

Back in July, Ellie Rushing, an intern from the Philadelphia Inquirer, did a story about “Beast,” before Peters & PW got a chance to white-wash it.

Her story begins here with a slightly longer video with Beast.

Beast In Philly From Ellie Rushing
Beast talking with the Philadelphia Inquirer intern, Ellie Rushing.

Since I included her in my inquiry, she responded to my initial post.

Ellie Rushing From Philly Inquirer Tweet
The headline is about the city’s decision to postpone clearing out the camp, but that doesn’t tell us anything about the people there and what they need.

I continued to push Rushing, just like I did Peters, to which she responded.

Ellie Rushing From Philly Inquirer Says It's "Dehumanizing" To Ask Homeless People About Their Lives
It’s not “dehumanizing” to be interested in the details of people’s lives. That’s called being a real journalist, actually. Something that these institutions don’t practice any longer.

I’ve already demonstrated it is not dehumanizing to ask an “unhoused person” to provide documentation that would tell us about their housing history. It’s actually helpful in order to get them the help they need from the city that they claim they are protesting.

She’s just not aware of that detail. She got caught off guard, and didn’t have the courtesy to say, “I’ll have to get back to you about that.”

The Job Of Journalists Is NOT To “Speak Truth To Power”

If you’re a journalist reading this, I have news for you. Your job is not to “speak truth to power.” Your job is to “ask questions and report the answers.” Right now you’re doing way too much work, for no results that benefit the public. In fact a lot of you that think you’re “speaking truth to power,” are actually just “annoying powerful people and refusing to help the public understand the truth.”

So knock it off…

Rushing asked me why I care so much about this man to which I asked, “why don’t YOU?” Eventually she told me that if I wanted any more information, that I would have to go down there and ask my own questions.

I told her, “that’s YOUR job,” but since the reporters in our town don’t do their jobs – I had to. So I went to meet “Beast” myself.

His name is Ed, by the way.

SAY HIS NAME – Edwin (Hairston) Jones

Black Lives Matter Global Network and attorney Ben Crump have made a habit of getting people to chant “say (their) name!” then repeat the names of victims of (mostly) wrongful death cases involving police. But, that means this organization thinks that Black Death Matters (more) than black lives. I have never heard about them teaching healthy living, encouraging family values (they’re Marxist so they don’t believe in that), or anything else that would actually create long-term value for black Americans.

Have you ever heard BLM chant the name of a living person? Probably not. That’s not what they do. They are a Marxist lobbying group, not a civil rights organization. The sooner people realize that, the better we’ll all be.

Edwin Hairston Jones From Philly
Edwin (Hairston) Jones, 60 years old.

In any event, I walked up to the encampment unsure of who to talk to. I didn’t where to go, or what I was even expecting to find. (2) men stood at the entrance and I timidly asked them, “…is ‘Beast‘ here?” They vaguely pointed around a tent, and said that I would find him there. After taking a few steps I recognized the man I had seen on Twitter and I approached him introducing myself as a writer working on a piece about the camp.

Nobody Else Noticed That Ed Is A Philly OG

After briefly introducing myself, he invited me to sit with him in the commissary. Donations are brought to and distributed from here.

Beast AKA Sonic From Philly
Though he’s wearing a Giants shirt, he’s one of those Philadelphians that are actually Cowboys fans.

Edwin (Hairston) Jones is 60 years old. Born in the West Philadelphia neighborhood known as Mantua. He referred to this area in terms that only people from the city know, too, “the bottom.” I knew that this man was definitely from Philly.

Ed told me that I could use his real name (which I have yet to verify, for the record), his pictures, and other details about his life. What Rushing and Peters don’t understand or care about is that this man is not an activist. There are a lot of people at this camp who are like him in that way.

He is not a politician. Ed is a real homeless man that is doing what he can to survive right now. From that perspective, how could anybody blame him for participating in this encampment? It doesn’t matter if the political aims of each individual group fail. For people like Ed, this is another day in the struggle for basic needs to get by. That became obvious to me very quickly.

When I asked how other reporters treated him and the camp as a whole, Ed told me, “they don’t talk to us like people.” I noticed that from the coverage of Rushing & Peters as well as others from outside the city who covered this. It was disheartening to hear it from the man himself, though.

The Famous Hairston Clan

We talked a little bit about his mother’s maiden name, “Hairston.” If you know the show Amen, you may recognize the name Jester Hairston, who played “Rolly Forbes” on the show. Jester is apparently a distant cousin on his mother’s side. Ed tells me that his mother is from the “Hairston Clan,” which he says is the biggest clan in America, though I’m still not sure what that means exactly.

Also, Ed mentioned Sherman Hemsley (star of the show) was a Philadelphian (from South Philly) and it was known he was gay. These kinds of details and associations with the city make it clear this man is from here, which other reporters just assumed without knowing any verifiable details.

A book about his family was one of his prized possessions, and it’s called “The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White.” It tells their history in this country.

Honesty About Rehabilitation & Serving Time

Remember, Ellie Rushing and Jason N. Peters are of the opinion that it’s insulting to consider asking a person how they ended up homeless. This is because of deep rooted bigotry in them. They hold judgments about people and project those onto other people. Mostly due to their own ignorance, and inability or unwillingness to actually learn about people honestly.

I’m used to it, though. I’ve had plenty of friends get locked up as early as 13 years old, in juvenile detention centers and mental health treatment facilities like The Horsham Clinic. When I was a student at Temple University I befriended several homeless people in the neighborhood which was very eye-opening for me. Nobody understood why I did it then either.

One of the most striking things I remember from spending time with homeless people in North Philly, was the experience of having every passersby avert eye contact with me. That is dehumanizing. You start to feel as if you don’t exist at all. I ended up relating more to trash, and things on the ground, since it’s also demoralizing to yearn for simple eye contact.

Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to not have to live on the street, but I have gone through a period of my life where I was temporarily and technically homeless. Living with my wife in a friend’s attic. I was fortunate enough to always have a roof over my head, but many people are not. The shame of losing such simple things is emotionally taxing too. Imagine being in that position with no friends or family left to call on. Very scary stuff for most people to even think about. That’s what Ed and others live with.

We spoke briefly about Ed’s (4) incarcerations (I did not ask specifically what they were for) which were at:

I asked if he had ever represented himself pro se in any of his legal proceedings, which he has not. But he did tell me that he spent some time in the law library in prisons learning some things about the process. This has enabled him to have more understanding of what’s happening with the legal battle the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment is having, compared to some of the other people there.

He’ll Always Love His Momma – Like The Intruders (Philly Soul)

A classic Philly soul group and a timeless song.

His most recent bid ended in 2010. He remained “hustling” as he put it. I also did not ask for specifics about that. During the period of his life between 10′ – 16′ he says that he was taking care of his mother and her home, without much support from siblings. A lot of the money he was making apparently went to fixing up the house, with replacements on things like water heaters, etc.

Ed’s mother passed away in 2016, which began a downward spiral for him leading to his eventual homelessness that began about 18 months ago. Despite some help from his nephew, Ed was unable to keep paying the mortgage payments and eventually lost his mother’s home. Alex and James from Workers Revolutionary Collective found Ed living at LOVE Park, and invited him to be part of the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment in June.

These are the kinds of details that I was hoping Ellie Rushing, Jason N. Peters, and the rest of the Philadelphia journalists would have the decency to report. Unfortunately, they did not talk to Ed like a person. What’s worse is they didn’t even listen to him like a person either. All they saw was an intersectional identity of “older black homeless male.” They reported on him using stock images, as if he was just a stock person.

That is a serious injustice to Ed, homeless people in general, and our city at large. I was further surprised and delighted to learn that Ed is not just an “elder statesman” (as he put it when I asked if he was the “mayor”) of the camp. Philly has not only been his home, it has also been his canvas.

Hip City Swingers & Klub City Decorators Represent

Ed was part of another revolutionary cultural movement in Philadelphia.

The HCS (Hip City Swingers) & KCD (Klub City Decorators) are original Philly graffiti crews from the 60’s & 70’s. Ed, aka “Beast” is a writer. He also used to write “Sonic,” as in supersonic (speed). This predates Sonic the Hedgehog by ~20 years. His crew included Chewy, HIP, TITY, BOND. Philly graffiti legend Cornbread (Darryl McCray), was also a contemporary of his.

I knew he was a Philly graffiti writer when I saw how he signed his name.

Beast From Philly Signature
Beast’s penmanship.

I’m practiced in the Philly hand styles so I know one when I see one. Key indicators include – where he starts the “B,” shape of the “E,” as well as how tightly knit the letters are. The asterisk accent, one fluid motion stroke, all point to a hand that has done some tagging. It is not accidental at all.

A graffiti writer from Philly has practiced their craft and mastered the stroke with rigorous discipline so it comes out looking fresh every time. These features are rooted in their muscle memory. Embedded into the fiber of their being.

Compare that signature to the one at the end of these pieces of paper which Jason N. Peters claims are Beast’s.

See how each letter there is distinct, and much more legible? The B has the bottom part fully extend under the post, compared to BEAST signature I got which only extends the post to the half-way point of the curved portion of the letter B. Also, the “ea” is lower-case in Peters’ rendition, compared to the all-caps of BEAST’s signature. The direction of where the letter “t” begins and ends is also dramatically different. Also, Peters’ version has no asterisk.

Ed told me that he did write the poem. In fact, he told me he wrote poems as a kid, for his friends – to give to girls. He said somebody asked to publish more of his poems, too. “The Day I Hurt A Friend,” and “Night Stares” are two titles of poems he’s working on for some digital publisher he said.

I’m Not Buying This Part, Though

I found almost everything else Ed said to be credible, but nothing about these (2) signatures look alike to me. If Ed is still defending Jason, it’s because he thinks Jason was a friend, and I understand that kind of loyalty and actually respect it. But PW & Peters were both so dishonest and defensive, it leads me to be inclined to need unequivocal proof from them.

Maybe it was copied by someone?

Somebody named Dominquer has it apparently.

Though this is a very minor detail, it should not be this hard to verify, and I should not have this much doubt about the voracity of my local newspaper.

Remember The MOVE Bombing In Philly, 1985?

Ed told me that he was locked up when the MOVE bombing hit a West Philly neighborhood. He told me that he and some other inmates watched it on television as it was happening. I asked about the similarities he saw between MOVE in Philly, and BLM now, given they have similar tenants and community response. Ed said that he thinks they’re similar because they both are cast as black movements, but actually have a diverse membership.

Former Philadelphia mayor Goode calls for city apology in fatal 1985 bombing
Former mayor Wilson Goode

Former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode allowed a West Philadelphia house to be bombed in an effort to squash MOVE and their efforts. He apologized for this in the years that followed, but also came out more recently, demanding that Mayor Jim Kenney apologize for this.

The only thing I can figure, is that this would have allowed Goode to absolve himself of the public scrutiny, while making it look like a white man/mayor (Kenney) was responsible. But he wasn’t. Though Kenney is responsible for his inept, and absent approach to the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment, he had nothing to do with MOVE in 1985 (that I know of).

Side Notes – Teddy Munson, FOX 29, and the Unidentified Helicopter

As I’m interviewing Ed, a man comes up and asks for a cell phone so he can contact somebody about seeing a room. His name is Theodore Munson. He speaks with a slight impediment, so it can be difficult to understand him. I provided him my phone and talked to somebody for him, to help schedule his time. Ed was kind enough to be his point of contact, too, though it was clear that the person on the other end of the phone was expecting to speak to a case worker (there is none). This is when I realized that not everybody in the Philadelphia Parkway Encampment are in the same position. They are all at different stages of homelessness, with very little guidance. From that perspective it’s amazing how functional this has been for any of them.

Teddy & Beast.

Teddy was very appreciative, kind, and gentle.

Then FOX29 showed up, and ended up interviewing Teddy.

We noticed a helicopter flying overhead at some point.

Helicopter Over Philadelphia Parkway Encampment
Jamar, a man at the camp, said he thought “N28 O…” was written on the side of the helicopter.

According to the people I spoke with at the camp, it was very unusual for a helicopter to fly overhead at all, let alone how close this one came.

Shame On Kenney, Krasner, and Outlaw

Eventually, Ed told me what my gut knew all along, that some of the people there are from Philadelphia – like him. The rest are from “as far as California or Washington” he said. When I asked Ed how many times Kenney, Krasner, or Outlaw had visited the camp he said, “zero.”

Our mayor didn’t visit to confirm if these are even Philadelphia citizens. Krasner never showed up to address the legal ramifications. Outlaw obeyed their “no cop zone” just like she obeyed the rule of a mob that wanted to loot stores and her police vehicles’ equipment. She never even went there in plain clothes to be with black lives she says matter. The hypocrisy is palpable to people like Ed, and anybody else who’s paying attention. They allowed our city to be destroyed, and have ignored the aftermath too.

Our Mayor’s Hands Are So Far Off They Might As Well Be Handcuffed

Let this sink in: our Mayor doesn’t even knowing how many people there are a) really homeless, b) from Philadelphia, or c) only came to the city in order to riot, loot, squat, and perform political violence.

How can there be legitimate discussions about how to help the homeless in Philadelphia if we don’t even know who we’re talking about? Why should residents of the city – who pay taxes, be the ones to fund housing for people that came here just to riot, loot, and unlawfully protest? Shouldn’t the city they came from address their issues?

These are the questions I was waiting to hear from our local press.

But they failed us too.

Most of all, these politicians and news outlets failed Ed. They failed the others like him at this Philadelphia Parkway Encampment too. The Democratic party has promised people like this hope, answers, and results for 70 years in Philadelphia and they have. not. delivered.

Impending Ramifications

The Inquirer reported that the city just announced that the encampment has to clear out by September 9th but, when I spoke with Ed originally, he was convinced there would be many appeals and that nobody is eager to get involved with moving them out of there. That makes a lot of sense.

After the 676 incident and 52nd Street, nobody wants to be the one responsible for a brutal use of government-directed law enforcement.

Here’s what would be bad: Kenney and Outlaw go to clear out the encampment, a conflict occurs, people get hurt or killed, and the camp gets disbanded with aggression. This would also result in potentially hundreds of people who aren’t from here to remain here without any assistance. That would undoubtedly end very poorly for everybody involved including a lot of innocent people.

When human beings are pushed with their backs against the wall, they tend to do whatever it takes to survive. It is one of the most inspiring things about our race; but it also can be highly destructive.

It’s A Leaderless Ship With (3) Rudders

What needs to happen, is what should have happened from the beginning: identify who these people are, how long they’ve been homeless, what their physical and mental health is like, and get them housed & working. But this is unlikely to happen because of the organizers behind it and the press covering it.

The main organizations that are behind putting this together include:

One of the main things you’ll notice is that neither WRC nor BBWC are talking about jobs, or getting these people working. The names of their organizations are misleading in that sense. Despite the fact that WRC, BBWC, and OPHA organized this, none of them are equipped to help the homeless. In fact, the WRC released these (2) documents which are their “principles” and “demands” a while back:

After reading through this, what became apparent to me is that there is actually no way to give this group what they claim to want. The city is a carceral entity. So if they reject those, “the city” can’t give them anything even if they wanted to. They claim to have a 1st amendment right to protest but that is also guaranteed by the constitution, from the carceral state. Not only that, they agree that they’re breaking the law anyway which is a violation of the 1st amendment making this not a protest.

It is under the guise of helping the homeless, but if you skip to video (4) in this Instagram gallery post, you can hear Alex’s very clear message about the tax abatement program.

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Philly's Homeless Population Creates Camp Maroon Autonomous Zone To Demand Universal & Affordable Housing By -@cakedupdrippedout ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As #BlackLivesMatter 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 ….…to read the rest log on to BallerAlert.com (clickable link on profile)

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One staunch critic of the abatement program is city controller Rebecca Rhynhart, which was reported by Philly Mag last year. The tax abatement program was designed to entice developers who were building both low-income housing, and affordable housing for people in higher income brackets. Mostly this was contributing to a construction boom in the city.

This is not connected to improving the quality of homeless shelters, city services for housing insecurity, or anything that would contribute to the lives of people like Ed. It has also been explained to these groups that the Philadelphia Housing Authority (the ones they are protesting) are not responsible for housing the homeless according to Generocity contributor Brandon Dorfman.

According to Dorfman, Kenney said, “the continued shifting of camp leaders’ demands, and the fact that some of their repeated demands are out of the City’s control, or unachievable in the time frame that they demand, all contribute to this difficult decision.” Maybe this is a stunt to force the city’s hand to end the tax abatement program given the budget has been torn to sheds by Kenney’s mismanagement, a pandemic, and race riots.

They May Not Even Know What They Want

Most of these activists are not logical. They are very emotional. Their tactics are brute-force. They have absent-minded, disorganized leadership. So long as they get what they think they want, or say they want (like a “no cop zone” which has effectively kept police at bay) they think it’s working. There are other logical fallacies in their demands but I won’t break them all down here. This should give you a sense of what we’re dealing with, though.

I asked Beast about how much money they need to build a development or house themselves. He said he was not sure. He’s not part of that group of decision-makers. Volunteers here all tell you they, “aren’t structured like a traditional” community, non-profit, or whatever entity you may think “they” are. WRC is a non-profit, though. They have to conduct business according to very strict regulations and they don’t. Occupy PHL is a Facebook Group from what I can tell, and nothing more. I’m not really sure what BBWC is but it is not a non-profit. One of their leaders Sterling Johnson told me that.

These (3) groups may align on some things. But they also have their own agendas too. That’s why it’s virtually impossible for the city to negotiate with them on anything. Their principles contradict their demands, which include the rejection of the entity (the city, and the American constitution) they are seeking to redress. It doesn’t work that way.

WRC has declined to send me their financial statements, too. That is a requirement of any bonafide 501(c)(3). As a prospective donor, I need to know that they’re doing what they say they will do with my money. It isn’t obvious that they do what they promise. They should furnish financial records like they’re supposed to so we know who is giving what to who.

Nobody will tell me who the executive director is either for some reason.

Only information I could find for WRC was a listed address for the business which is 1203 Peters Street, Philadelphia PA 19147-4519. It’s a residential address, not a corporate office. Are they (not) housing people there? The organizers like to brand this as a grassroots movement started by homeless people for homeless people. But it’s obvious there are other interests here.

What If Trump Fixed It?

If Trump can fix this, and other situation like it, he can win re-election by doing what Democrats have failed to do for their own constituents on a human level.

For months it has been painfully obvious that Democrats in Philly and their progressive counterparts are failing the constituencies they are currently pandering to. The activists are either unsure, incapable, or disinterested in actually delivering on their promises. Politicians have turned a blind eye to it or otherwise avoided these issues (for decades, now) too. Our press is not concerned with what’s really happening, making it impossible to understand. Everybody is just doing playing performative politics here.

Except Ed, and the people like him, who just want to be treated with dignity and respect. He said, “everybody wants to live somewhere.” It’s true. Such a simple notion. Most people take this for granted, because most people don’t have to fight for a place to live.

Be Appreciative For Whatever You Have

Ed says, “we’re all 1 mistake away from being right here” pointing to his own seat in the commissary. It’s true. An illness, death in the family, or market turn can send anybody right into the same position. What would you want from your city if that happened to you? Would you want your mayor to fight you in court or show up at least 1 day to try to understand the situation? Or would you want your district attorney to look for available legal remedies? Would you want your police chief to obey your “no cop zone” orders or would you want her to at least ask you if you’re okay?

Republicans have looked at this encampment, as well as other situations like this, and viewed it as Democrats’ problem to fix. But Republicans can no longer turn their eyes to this blindly either. The Democrats are clearly not going to do anything about it. From a humanitarian perspective, it’s time to stop the partisan games. We need to finally help these people who really need it. On the political side, though, it would be a very strong statement for conservatives to step up to the plate and help those who are really in need. It would show they can do what Democrats can’t.

The WRC has is the most vocal advocate of the group. However, their principles reject: police, courts and prisons, hospitals, non-profits, social workers, shelters, health clinics, child welfare, universities, PHA…so how could they even help the homeless? They can’t. They won’t. Even if they really wanted to. It’s just not in their group’s constitution.

Politics Aside

Ed doesn’t care what political party helps him. Why would he? Would you?

A theme in my conversation with Ed was about how he (and others like him) just want to be accepted. They want a place to live, and a job to work so they can be part of the community. They are tired of being apart from the community. Just like everybody else, they want to be treated with respect.

They want to know that their life on this planet matters.

A young woman at the camp hung out with us for a little bit to have a couple laughs.

If it were up to Black Lives Matter Philly, none of these people will matter until they have been martyred. Then BLM will shout their name in the streets across the country.

That may be the Marxist agenda for the black community in Philadelphia, or for homeless people of color. But I want to see our political system and local government get out of its own way. Somebody with power & influence needs to bridge the gap to actually solve this problem. FAST.

MOVE 2.0 Has To Have A Better Ending Than The Original

I only spent about 2 hours with Ed, but that’s at least 60x longer than the Inquirer and Philly Weekly combined. I discovered that I was right. There are many non-Philadelphians (and possibly non-homeless) in this camp who are muddying up the waters for us to see what is really going on. I shudder to think what could be happening deeper in the camp under everybody’s noses. One of the founders died of an overdose early on and everybody just kind of moved on like it didn’t even happen. Ed seemed a bit incredulous about that, too.

I only know a few things for sure at this point.

  1. Local news failed us.
  2. Local politicians failed us too.
  3. There is no accountability for either the local news or local politicians.

I am not vouching for everything Beast told me though I do believe most of it. The things I needed to know were a) is he really homeless, and b) is he from Philadelphia? I can confidently say that I believe he is both. However that’s more than I can say about the rest of the people there. Also, it is an abomination that our city officials don’t know as much about this as I do.

I treat all people with respect no matter their age, race, gender, or other identifying characteristics. I’m not a Democrat, but I am the kind of progressive that these liberals pretend they are. I’m not a Republican either.

In fact I have no party affiliation. I ever never voted in an election before.

But I know Democrats have failed, and Republicans have an opportunity.

Whether or not anybody takes this opportunity…remains to be seen.

Matt Berman

Matt Berman

Matt has been an artist since he was a child: dancing, illustrating, writing, and producing music. In business, Matt is a master strategist, and expert in communications. He combines his creative passions with his diligence as a professional to give clients a fierce competitive advantage in any circumstance. He has a Bachelors degree in Philosophy from Temple University.