Million Mom Marchers ransack
Second Amendment Sisters' materials stolen, dumped in garbage can
By Roger Abramson
PHILADELPHIA -- As the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Sisters were in the process of setting up their display in front of Independence Hall, a contingent of "Million Mom Marchers" came through and ransacked a table of books, pamphlets and other Second Amendment Sisters-related materials, shoving it all into a garbage can down the street.
The Second Amendment Sisters calls itself a "grassroots, spontaneous group," started by "a handful" of the 12 million women gun owners in America. Based in Dallas, SAS began as the "Armed Informed Mothers March," intended as a counter-movement to the anti-gun Million Mom March held in May. The two groups have been at odds ever since.
In fact, the two opposing groups spent the pre-Republican Convention weekend facing each other at opposite ends of historic Independence Mall, in the shadow of the Liberty Bell. SAS displays a montage of American flags commemorating the 400,000 lives it says have been saved by guns; the Million Moms, apparently joined by other groups, presents rows and rows of shoes they claim equal the number of children killed by guns every year.
According to Second Amendment Sisters spokesperson Maria Heil, the "Million Moms" saw their opportunity to raid the exhibition last Saturday while she and other SAS members were away for a few moments getting display materials on the other side of Independence Park. When Heil came back, the table was bare and a number of flags had "Million Mom March" buttons pinned to them.
Heil and members of the Independence National Park Police went looking for the materials, finally finding them inside a park garbage can about a block away. The Park Police contacted the Philadelphia City Police, and members of both forces kept a close eye on the area for the rest of the weekend.
Later on, as Heil and other SAS members were walking along a nearby sidewalk, they were accosted by an anti-gun protester who "hurled the F-word over and over again" until he was removed by the police. Heil was then told that a federal mediator was being brought in and put on stand-by should any more such problems occur.
"I have to say that the police have been great," Heil said. "I also think that they are sort of warming up to us a bit, after they've seen how different we and the other side operate."
The City of Philadelphia has pulled out all of the stops for this year's Republican National Convention, and a special effort has been made to keep the inevitable protests from getting out of hand. According to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer, all members of the city police are on duty this week, and "large numbers" of Pennsylvania state police and federal law enforcement officials are also in town throughout the convention. The city will not reveal exactly how many active police there will be, other than saying that it is a "record number."
The most notable protest groups this weekend have been the "Kensington Welfare Rights Union," which has formed a tent city called "Bushville" (in homage to the 1930s era "Hoovervilles") in North Philadelphia, and the "Philadelphia Direct Action Group," which uses its "Ministry of Puppetganda" for political street theater. Also active have been the "Billionaires or Bush (or Gore)," consisting of college students dressed up in aristocratic attire protesting the influence of corporations in politics.
Thus far, however, the Million Mom raid is the only known incident of less-than-civil disobedience. Nevertheless, Philadelphia, as the home of Mumia Abu-Jamal -- who is on death row for killing a Philadelphia police officer -- and the most recent site of televised police violence, has become the nation's ground zero for anti-police fervor. There are plans for numerous protests throughout the week, and the city is taking no chances.
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