Block Party or ‘Bloc Party’?
June is here and all around the neighborhood cones and banners are closing off streets for block parties. Block parties are high up in my ‘Best Things About Summer’ list along with ripe tomatoes, water balloon fights, and porch fans, but this year there’s another type of block party that’s even more exciting. I’m talking about the ‘Bloc Party’, an effort to mobilize the hundreds of thousands of people across Philadelphia who have been directly affected by mass incarceration. By some estimates there are over 300,000 people who have served prison or jail sentences in Philadelphia, and when you consider all the people who have seen their friends and family members do time, you have the makings of huge voting bloc with the power to reverse the punitive, racist, classist policies and practices which have caused Pennsylvania’s prison population to balloon from 8,243 people in 1980 to over 52,000 today. This ‘Bloc Party’ is about more than bouncy castles, it’s about ending mass incarceration, stopping the legal discrimination against the formerly incarcerated and breaking the cycles of violence in our communities.
To learn more about the Bloc Party attend their free event tomorrow, June 11th from 6-9 pm at The Friend’s Center (15th and Cherry st) or contact the hosting organization The Center For Returning Citizens.
For more information on efforts in Pennsylvania to end mass incarceration in and the damage it does to our communities check out Decarcerate PA.
For the City Form needed to get your block closed for a block party go here.
AP Photo/Steven Senne