The tale of two protests By Bobbi Lee Hitchon With the upcoming Democratic Primary election in PA, now is the time for protest groups in the area to speak up. This is the story of two, one against Scientology and the other against conflict in Darfur, that appeared in front of City Hall in Philadelphia Sunday, April 13 with very different causes, but the same objective…to be heard.
First to appear on the scene, “Anonymous,” a group connected by internet to speak out against Scientology. The rowdy crowd wore “V for Vendetta” masks, wigs, flashy clothing, and various costumes. Their objective: encourage people to question the religion and raise awareness to certain traditions in the religion.
The protestors handed out flyers saying, “Scientology is in reality a cult, an organization started by a science fiction writer that scams its victims out of tens of thousands of dollars in order to ‘move up’ within the organization.” “Scientology is responsible for the deaths of many of its own followers and critics. Lisa McPherson died under Scientologist observation in a Scientology-owned hotel in Florida covered with cockroach bites. Lisa was mentally ill, and after her death found with less than $200 in her bank account.”
The crowd was fueled by their own personal, masked DJ who played everything from pop to techno.
Next to arrive on the scene was the Darfur Alert Coalition. The peaceful and more organized protestors featured speakers from government, Darfur, and Tibet. This was one of several protests held by the Coalition today.
Former religion editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jim Rensen, led the protest with his clipboard and megaphone.
Outreach Director of the African Studies Program at University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ali Dinar, was first to speak. He addressed people’s frustration with how little has changed. But encouraged them to carry on, because it’s better than doing nothing. “When you create a monster and just keep feeding it, eventually it will attack.” “Keep the pressure, because the worst thing we could do is have a feeling of despair and hopelessness.” “People say, we do this and this and this and nothing happens. But you have to continue to do this, because it’s better than not doing anything.”
Next to speak was PA State Representative Babette Joseph. She spoke about support for House Bill 1140, which she said, “takes PA money out of tainted business funds.” She encouraged people to sign poster board petitions in support of the bill, which would be sent to House members.
Executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia and chair of the Darfur Alert Coalitions communication, Burt Siegel, speaking with Philadelphia City Controller Allen Butkovitz.
The two protests finally meet to educate each other.