Senator Toomey and Wells Fargo: Blind to Blight

On Thursday, October 13, 2011, West, Southwest, North and Northeast Philadelphians embarked on an “Infrastructure Garden Tour.” Fight for Philly volunteers were picked up from various locations in West and South West Philadelphia, with a final destination of downtown Philadelphia.

There, we demanded that Wells Fargo pay their share and that Senator Pat Toomey support The American Jobs Act.

The bus tour consisted of neglected bridges and roads, abandoned lots, and foreclosed homes. While on the bus, volunteers shared their personal stories about their communities and how their neighborhoods have changed for the worse.

Here’s what West Philadelphia community member Geraldine Jordan said:

“I have seen a decline in her neighborhood. It is devastating to see littered lots, abandoned buildings and small businesses that have been shut down and lack of employment within my community.”

When we stopped at 52nd & Baltimore, we got off the bus and walked around the area. We had conversations about Fight for Philly with the neighbors, and they were ready to get involved as we knocked on doors and handed out fliers.

When we arrived downtown, the group was extremely excited and ready to take action. Once we got off the bus, we were joined by Occupy Philly and other Fight for Philly volunteers from across Philadelphia. The sounds of fired up crowd—made up of Philadelphians of all walks of life—surrounded Wells Fargo.  It was truly astonishing that, despite the diversity of people—from very different neighborhoods and backgrounds—had a common purpose in an astonishing view of individuals who represent the face of Philadelphia.

The crowd started chanting words like “Who broke Philly? Wells broke Philly!” and “The banks got bailed out and we got sold out,” as police surrounded us and refused to let anyone in.  At first, they said that only customers could go in.  But when we found a customer, suddenly the bank branch was “closed.”

As we began our march to Senator Toomey’s office, the crowd gained even more energy. That was when we began to sing “Toomey, Toomey can’t you see, good jobs are what we need.” When we were told we needed to make an appointment, members of the crowd began to dial the senator’s office. In the end, nobody was allowed to physically get into the office.

We chanted that “we’ll be back,” and mark our words, we’ll keep that promise until Senator Toomey meets with us face-to-face and explains to us why he is blind to the blight of our neighborhoods.

Fight for Philly’s neighborhood teams are growing in numbers and engaging community members everyday. Our message is being heard and we are ready to take things to another level. We are recruiting volunteers and having events all over Philly. The time is now to create a powerful group.

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