Schools not Jails: Citizens at Graterford Prison Protest Pennsylvania’s Prison Expansion Plans
By John Grant, This Can't Be Happening!
The theme of the demonstration was Jobs Not Jails and Schools Not Prisons. Specifically, there was the $685 million sought by the Corbett administration in Harrisburg for over 8,000 new prison beds in the state -- this at a time many citizens feel the state should be re-evaluating things like the dismally failed Drug War and clearing inmates out of its prisons, thus saving the taxpayer money and re-directing funds to more beneficial areas.
The main group organizing the demonstration was Decarcerate PA, a coalition of organizations and citizens fed up with the trend that emphasizes more prisons while things like education and health care get squeezed and cut to the bone.
Organizers said this effort was an experiment, since no one had ever mounted a demonstration in the area of Graterford Prison, a massive complex in Montgomery County west of Philadelphia. The area is pretty conservative. So the demonstrators were cautious.
|Photograph courtesy This Can't Be Happening!|
The troopers told us there was a parking lot a half mile away where demonstrators could park and collect. In modern police parlance, that meant that lot was designated to be the “free speech zone” for the afternoon.
As Decarcerate PA folks arrived and the crowd grew in the blazing heat of the parking lot, it was decided the group would march single file toward the Graterford entrance. Immediately, a state police car with lights flashing met the group and stopped it.
Trooper Furlong, in the photo above, did the talking, and he was very polite and friendly. He said all the businesses in the vicinity of the Graterford entrance had been polled and no one wanted the demonstrators on their private property. The entrance intersection is, indeed, a pretty tight spot.
So the group set up shop on the grass along Route 29 by the Perkiomen Valley High School parking lot...
For the rest of this article by JOHN GRANT in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1238
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