FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Wiley Cunningham
Philadelphia Housing Action
EqualHealth – Campaign Against Racism Stands in Solidarity with James Talib-Dean Encampment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
63 Physicians and Healthcare Professionals from Around the World call for immediate end to violent actions against the JTD encampment and others in the City of Philadelphia
July 27, 2020, Philadelphia, PA
Earlier this month, 63 signatories from the EqualHealth – Campaign Against Racism called for an end to violent actions against the JTD encampment and other encampments in the city of Philadelphia. EqualHealth’s Campaign Against Racism is a collection of global health professionals committed to health equity for all, representing 23 chapters across 9 countries with professionals from the United States, Haiti, Chiapas, Palestine, Rwanda, Brazil, Colombia, Navajo Nation, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The statement was released after a visit from its Co-Director, Michelle Morse, and Philadelphia native. It provides details regarding the medic station and sanitation and hygiene practices at the Encampment. As we are in the middle of a global pandemic, the letter addresses concerns around the spread of COVID-19 among the residents and to the broader community. They conclude that the residents’ current needs are being met with handwashing stations, physical distancing practices and regular COVID-19 screening and testing. At this point, they concluded that it would be dangerous to break up the encampment without a concrete plan that did not involve a congregate setting.
“As healthcare workers we must use our unique voice and power to support and advance the organizing and priorities of unhoused people in Philadelphia and all over the world,” said Michelle Morse, EqualHealth’s Co-Director.
In response, last Friday, July 24, 2020, the city provided evidence of their work over the last four years to support housing. However, they did not address the immediate needs of the JTD camp residents or the need for emergency housing solutions that would address issues around the COVID-19 global pandemic. “It’s disappointing that the city responded with a form letter that was sent to other supporters and advocates. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health should have a statement in line with the CDC recommendations on engaging encampment residents, but they remain silent. Our Department of Public Health has sided with politics, not science,” said Sterling Johnson, Organizer with the Black & Brown Workers Cooperative.