The Fourth of July brings thousands of tourists to Independence Mall, but members of the Occupy Movement are arriving for their first National Gathering, taking place in Philadelphia this week. Stretched out across Independence Park and Franklin Square, organizations from around the country gather to discuss issues such as economic inequality, homelessness, student debt and war.
Occupy Philadelphia organizer Matthew Armstead said today that they are expecting many more people to arrive by Wednesday. They plan to break up into small discussion groups of 10 or 12 around 10 a.m. and share ideas about what they’d like to improve in the country.
Then the groups will combine, find common threads, and eventually as a whole the movement will draft a document called “Visions for a Democratic Future” that will be read aloud and sent to government officials. Armstead also said they are planning a peaceful protest for the evening.
Police officers were on the scene Tuesday to keep watch over protestors. It’s expected they will have Occupy’s Fourth of July activity under control. Ben & Jerry’s was also there serving ice cream to hungry occupiers. Operations Manager Katie Bertelsen said, “Ben and Jerry are very passionate about the Occupy Movement. We’re giving away free ice cream today. Peace, love and ice cream — that’s our thing.”