School Protesters Sit-in Outside Nutter's Office

About a dozen protesters have planted themselves on the cold tile outside Mayor Nutter’s office with a live-streaming video camera, and they plan to stay there until the School Reform Commission votes Thursday on closing 29 district schools.

The protesters, including members of the advocacy groups Action United and Parents United, want a one-year moratorium on school closings.

The sit-in began in the afternoon, after Nutter and schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. met with Philadelphia NAACP leader Jerry Mondesire, members of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity and Action United.

Nutter “nodded and took a lot of notes,” Mondesire said, but did not agree to support the moratorium. That’s when the sit-in began, followed by a larger rally and puppet show (featuring a paper mache version of Nutter driving a bulldozer over some kids dressed as schoolhouses) outside City Hall.

“We think the closures are just not well thought-out, too helter-skelter and have a disproportionate effect on black children,” Mondesire said.

The sitters, including Helen Gym from Parents United, brought food, sleeping bags and a power strip for charging electronic devices and broadcasting a live-stream of the protest. Mondesire said bail money had been raised in case the protesters were arrested, but he didn’t think that would happen.

Mayor Nutter has been tolerant of past protests, including the Occupy movement that set up an encampment outside City Hall for several months in 2011. Police officers were stationed at either end of the second floor hallway outside Nutter’s office today, but they took no action after 5 p.m., when the building normally is secured for the night.

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