Let's take a quick moment to talk about a deeply uncomfortable subject: gentrification. It is a nation-wide problem, but it is also a local problem. The major universities of Philadelphia, while in many ways offering support to their communities, are and have been expanding campuses into their surrounding neighborhoods for many years now. As more and more students and employees migrate to Philadelphia to attend these wonderful universities to receive an excellent education and maintain these institutions, there is rising tension in these communities. Residents, who are largely people of color, are and have been finding themselves displaced, their neighborhoods rebuilt, as the cost of living keeps increasing.
One of the communities most affected by the consequences of gentrification and the role that Philadelphia's universities have played in it is West Philadelphia. Unfortunately, this is also one of the regions of the city that has been most rocked by the compound tragedies of COVID-19, the consequences of police brutality, and the more destructive expressions to which they have led, wreaking havoc on people's physical and mental health, their job security, and damaging businesses and grocery stores in West Philadelphia, many of which are owned by and in service to people of color.
We urge the Drexel community to consider volunteering and making donations to West Philadelphia's black-owned businesses and service providers. They are our neighbors.
Legal Observers are individuals who purposely position themselves close enough to demonstrations to be able to accurately watch and report the activities of participants and the law enforcement who interact with them. They are often law students, lawyers, and others in related professions. Typically they require some training, and will wear an identifying insignia displaying their neutral status.
Jail Support is both tracking arrestees as they move through the arrest and arraignment process and providing comfort to arrestees when they are released. It is a way of showing solidarity with arrested activists and a way of taking care of friends and community. It is not about providing legal assistance, but they often work with legal assistance organizations.