Michael Ta'Bon's bright orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs really stood out this afternoon among the sharp suits and snappy dresses sported at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's annual Mayoral Luncheon. Ta'Bon was one of six people from the Ex-Offenders Association of Pennsylvania who crashed the party at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to protest what they call insufficient efforts by Mayor Nutter's administration to help prison inmates re-enter society.
Nutter's 4,120-word speech, which spanned more than 33 minutes and covered a variety of employment and economic efforts, included one sentence about the city's Office of Reintegration Services For Ex-Offenders (RISE) and how it was helping to reduce the recidivism rate in the city.
The ex-offenders walked in about 20 minutes into Nutter's speech, sparking consternation from flustered Chamber and Convention Center officials who told them they had to leave.
"This is a silent protest," declared Malik Aziz. "We have the right to assemble. We have a right to a silent protest. This is the best time to do this, when everybody is here and everybody is listening."