Apparently Philadelphia's roving homeless encampment was busted up for the third time in roughly a week this morning -- this time from their short-lived hangout under an I-95 overpass in Port Richmond. Before that happened, one of the residents of the camp -- a carpenter named Paul Klemmer -- wrote a passionate letter hoping (unsuccessfully, it seems) to work things out. You should read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:
The second crisis, an ongoing one, no less immediate because of the season, is the people of Philadelphia's, and America's, willingness to allow armed men and women to prevent the poor from working together to increase their fortune.
With a nail gun, even a butane-powered one, and some battery-powered tools, I and the skilled carpenters in the camp could create, from recycled materials and donated fasteners, structures like those at Christmas Village, easily disassembled and transported, to see us through the winter.
What's more difficult to create is a sharing, loving community with those who the System has habitually fractured and fragmented. We've come a long way in a short time and formed the core of such a community of shared involvement and responsibility. We've been conditioned by being forced to exist alone, to grab all we can before someone else does, this alienation suiting the purposes of a status quo which would keep us invisible and blame us for our own misfortunes.
I thought Christmas was when we celebrate the arrival of a carpenter -- not evict him.