National Guard OUT of Philly Libraries!

Adam K. Theil, Director, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management

1wadstroops
National Guard troops positioned outside the Wadsworth Neighborhood Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia during the #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd uprising

National Guard OUT of Philly Libraries!

No Shelter for Military and Police Terrorism in Our Community Libraries!

Union and Non-Represented Library workers were furious when we heard that on 3 June 2020 the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) directed the Free Library of Philadelphia to unlock the Wadsworth Library (1500 Wadsworth Avenue) to harbor National Guard troops inside. The Free Library is no place for soldiers who shoot rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs at people demonstrating against the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David Jones, Tony McDade and so many others.

To be in solidarity with Black Lives Matter we must listen to the movement’s call to defund and demilitarize the police. We don’t need the National Guard or the police in our libraries or our city. In fact during this uprising they have already injured at least 5 library workers who were out protesting against the murder of George Floyd.

We are Library workers and community members. To Adam K. Thiel, whose office issued this directive, and to the Free Library Administration, to the Board of Directors, Foundation and Trustees; to Mayor Jim Kenney, to City Council and to anyone else who cooperated with this we need to make clear: To be in solidarity with Black Lives Matter publicly with words of affirmation and on our official media channels, we must refuse to house the National Guard or the police in our libraries.

The OEM’s directive reverses decades of trust from our communities. It reverses our publicly-stated support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

To members of the Free Library Administration, Board of Directors, Foundation and Trustees; Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council and others: when the Office of Emergency Management wants National Guard troops to occupy our libraries, turn them down. Refuse this directive.

Also, consider the call from workers and community members to #DefundthePPD. The police are following the militarized lead of the National Guard, gorging themselves on our City budget to outfit themselves in riot gear and clog our skies with expensive helicopters. Meanwhile our Neighborhood Libraries suffer with short staff and crumbling buildings. Our budget is slated to be cut by $9 million - nearly 20%.

All 54 Neighborhood Libraries of the Free Library of Philadelphia are for the community. They’re for advancing literacy, guiding learning, and inspiring curiosity. They’re not for the housing of state oppression and police terrorism. If our libraries are open at all during this pandemic, they must be safe-haven cooling centers for the protests in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, like the Kimmel Center just announced.

Free Library of Philadelphia libraries do not belong to the cops and the troops shooting rubber bullets, tear gassing, throwing flash bangs at us and rolling tanks down our streets.

This is not the way to treat our Neighborhood Libraries. That would be to fully fund them. Defund the PPD - take away the money that makes it possible for them to have military grade equipment, and reinvest that money in our libraries and other community services that have suffered at the Police Department’s expense: Parks & Rec, Homeless Services, Public Health and more. Shut our doors to the National Guard. Throw out the proposed FY 2021 budget which lays off all seasonal workers - many of whom are Black and Brown - while the local arm of the military, the police, gets a $14 million budget bump.

For the Free Library of Philadelphia to be an anti-racist institution in solidarity with Black Lives Matter we need to shelter those on the side of justice, not their oppressors.


Petition by
Perry Genovesi
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To: Adam K. Theil, Director, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management
From: [Your Name]

Director Theil,

The Free Library of Philadelphia is no place for National Guard soldiers. On 3 June 2020, the Office of Emergency Management directed the Free Library of Philadelphia to unlock the Wadsworth Library to harbor troops inside. It's National Guard troops who shoot rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs at people demonstrating against the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David Jones, Tony McDade and so many others.

To be in solidarity with Black Lives Matter as the City of Philadelphia claims we must listen to the movement’s call to defund and demilitarize the police. We don’t need the National Guard or the police in our libraries or our city. In fact during this uprising they have already injured at least 5 Free Library workers who were out protesting against the murder of George Floyd.

The OEM’s directive reverses decades of trust from our communities. It reverses the City of Philadelphia’s publicly-stated support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

We’re already demanding members of the Free Library Administration, Board of Directors, Foundation and Trustees; Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council and others to refuse OEM directives for National Guard troops to occupy our libraries.

All 54 Neighborhood Libraries of the Free Library of Philadelphia are for the community. They’re for advancing literacy, guiding learning, and inspiring curiosity. They’re not for the housing of police terrorism and state oppression. If our libraries are open at all during this pandemic, they must be safe-haven cooling centers for the protests in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, like the Kimmel Center just announced.

Mr. Theil, the Free Library of Philadelphia does not belong to the cops and the troops shooting rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash bangs at us and rolling tanks down our streets. They belong to the community.

We need to make clear: To be in solidarity with Black Lives Matter publicly with words of affirmation and on the City’s official media channels, we must refuse to house the National Guard and the police at our libraries.

Thank you.