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A Concerted Effort Against Gentrification

Gentrification in Philadelphia is an issue that deserves a concerted response from those of us who oppose it. The momentum of recent actions leads us to believe that now is an especially good moment to call for a focused opposition to gentrification. We would like to offer some thoughts for those interested in pushing back against the encroachment of gentrification.
Gentrification affects our survival. Many of us are touched by it: our rents are increasing, the supermarkets and stores near us are becoming more expensive, the neighborhoods where we live are transforming into monotonous havens for students and the rich. Fighting against gentrification is fighting for our own livelihood, in solidarity with others doing the same.
The violence of gentrification gets normalized and often goes unnoticed, veiling itself in the language of “progress,” “improvement,” and “development”. When we fight against gentrification, we reveal the already existing conflict gentrification has brought to our neighborhoods.
In Philadelphia, where the most dire impacts of gentrification most often result in the displacement of black people, we believe that fighting “development” and “improvement” can easily be connected in both thought and action to the Black Lives Matter movement. The preservation of black life is not limited to protesting killings by vigilantes and police; the erosion of black life begins in so many daily abuses, many of which go hand in hand with the process of gentrification.
The anti-gentrification actions that have already taken place in Philadelphia have created a momentum outside of the institutional left (political parties, non-profits, etc). This autonomous momentum is the kind that empowers and emboldens those who take part, because it come from groups and individuals deciding for themselves when and how to take action. Taking direct action allows us to realize our own power without resorting to lobbying and asking permission.  The momentum and tone set by previous actions against gentrification is worth furthering.
Gentrification is happening everywhere. It is impossible to ignore the changes taking place in South Philly, West Philly or North Philly.  So many neighborhoods are effected, which means to us that there are so many opportunities for people to begin fighting back. If people are openly fighting against gentrification in multiple neighborhoods at once, resistance will be harder to control, forming links across the different geographies of the city. The widespread nature of development means that the possibility of an eruption of revolt is also widespread.
These are some of the reasons we feel a specific focus on fighting gentrification is important. Below we present some ideas of what we think will be useful in the fight against gentrification.
There have already been attacks, many aimed at OCF Realty.  These kinds of actions need to continue. We feel creatively scheming ways to make the material processes of development more difficult is one of the most important aspects of a struggle against gentrification. We see value in the attacks that have been highly visible and easy to understand, these kinds of attacks make the struggle visible and can gain support for those fighting. We also see value in attacks that may go unnoticed by passers-by, but sabotage gentrification in material ways. Either way, a movement based in attack is hard to co-opt or pacify, and builds it’s own autonomous power based in skill and ability.
One thing we have noticed lacking among the numerous actions that have already taken place is the spreading of ideas. Conversations about resisting gentrification with both comrades and interested people should be taking place. Marches, posters, banners, zines, assemblies, are only a handful of the channels where ideas can be shared and debated. Without a healthy dialogue surrounding how and why we fight, our actions will grow stale and we will find ourselves a small and isolated minority. Without taking the time to spread our ideas in a person to person way, we also run a greater risk of alienating with our attacks people who might otherwise understand our motives and see themselves as part of the same struggle. Conversation within our fight can be a place to share relevant information with one another, evaluate and learn from our actions, and plan together when it makes sense to do so in concert.
It’s with these thoughts in mind that we are calling for a concerted effort against gentrification.