Keystone State Protesters March to Spur Infrastructure Investment and Job Creation
By John McDonald, PoliticsPA Contributor
Hundreds of protesters rallied at several sites throughout Pennsylvania on Thursday, staging their events on or near structurally deficient Keystone State bridges as part of a nationwide effort to spur investment in infrastructure and jumpstart job creation.
In Philadelphia, where Mayor Michael Nutter said the City is “reevaluating” its relationship with demonstrators encamped outside City Hall for the last month, two dozen were arrested after staging a sit-in on the bustling Market Street Bridge near the 30th Street Station transit hub.
George Webb, an unemployed laborer from South Philadelphia who was among those arrested, said he was trying to send a message to other poor Philadelphians. ““I don’t know what’s going to come out of this in the future, but I hope jobs come out of it, bottom line,” he told PoliticsPA.
The arrests came as the City and protesters negotiated where the remaining Occupy contingent will be situated moving forward. The demonstrators have thus far gathered in Dilworth Plaza, an area directly outside City Hall which is scheduled to undergo a $50 million renovation that local union leaders have estimated could create nearly 1,000 jobs in the coming weeks. Some have begun to move their tents and belongings across the street to an area known as Thomas Paine Plaza, while others have vowed to remain at the original protest site.
Roughly 50 protesters in Pittston, meanwhile, gathered at Firefighter’s Memorial Bridge and exhorted United States Senator Pat Toomey, the Lehigh Valley Republican, and Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Hazleton) to support President Obama’s American Jobs Act.
Asked for comment, Toomey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik declined to specifically address the Pittston demonstration. “Senator Toomey appreciates feedback from his constituents and knowing their concerns,” she said in response to a question submitted by email. “It is for this reason that he has traveled across the state to hear their thoughts on the best way to create jobs and get our economy moving, including hosting jobs roundtables, town halls, and other public events.”
Across the state, members of Occupy Pittsburgh joined activists, organized labor representatives and scores of unemployed workers as they marched to the Greenfield Bridge in the Southeastern section of the Steel City.
In a brief interview with PoliticsPA, Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields, who attended the rally, said it was “good to bring these messages to the community.”
“These are the people whose children’s college costs are going up,” Shields said. “These are the people watching their jobs disappear.”