Visitors to the Philadelphia International Flower Show Wednesday got something they never expected: a protest.
Nine people from a group called “Earth Quaker Action Team” demonstrated in front of an exhibit built by the flower show’s major sponsor–PNC Bank. They object to its investments in mountaintop-removal mining practices.
The mining technique causes environmental damage by shearing off the tops of mountains with explosives.
Protesters were not targeting the flower show itself, just using it as a platform to get at PNC Bank, which had erected two towers made from wooden birdhouses and shrubbery on the exhibition floor.
Last year the group protested outside the Convention Center during the flower show; this year, they brought it inside.
“PNC is deceiving flower show patrons by maintaining investments that destroy the biodiversity of Appalachia while promoting itself as a ‘green bank,’ ” said Jonathan Snipes, reading from a prepared statement.
Neither PNC Bank representatives nor Pennsylvania Horticultural Society officials would comment.
Flower show visitors were perplexed and surprised the group would protest amid the tulips and boxwoods. While some were upset that their floral revelry was disrupted, others were amused by the excitement of the police action.
Rubin Cohen, a Philadelphia resident originally from West Virginia, said the reminder of environmentally damaging mining practices in his home state added to his Flower Show experience.
“I think it certainly rounds out the day,” said Cohen, applauding the protest. “While West Virginia is a mere three-hour drive away, I would gamble 90 percent of these people have no appreciation of that fact.”
Other visitors found the protest easy to ignore. “They’re just acting foolish,” said Jane Mangano of Woolwich Township, N.J.
The protesters vowed to remain at the exhibit for the duration of the show. Although they pleaded with police to take them into custody, they couldn’t get arrested.