Guests came to Fergie’s for a mid-July fundraiser for her and another Council at-large candidate with the Working Families Party, Nicolas O’Rourke, a community organizer and pastor in the city, who has worked on anti-poverty, anti-mass incarceration movements and brings those issues forward in his campaign.
Independents are on the rise in Philly. Could they actually win a City Council seat?
Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke filed petitions for at-large seats as members of the Working Families Parity. Both candidates are former Democrats who changed their party affiliations to run on the Working Families ticket.
In a test of how far progressive organizing in Philadelphia has come, several liberal outsiders have launched independent campaigns aimed at seizing two City Council seats that are reserved for minor-party or unaffiliated candidates and have been held by Republicans for nearly 70 years.
The campaigns are considered long shots in November’s election because of the unique way Philadelphia elects its at-large Council seats, and because the city’s Democratic Party is likely to oppose the efforts.
Nicolas O'Rourke with the interfaith group Power says officers are suppose to be patrolling the streets and keeping people safe. But actually, "Talk about us like we are dogs, animals, apes, and gorillas."
"Which side are you on?" the Rev. Nicolas O'Rourke, of the Living Water United Church of Christ, bellowed in song, as the group chimed in: "I'm on the justice side."
"We are in a very historical moment where the lines of morality have been drawn very clearly," Rev. Nicolas O’Rourke with POWER said. "Other times in history things have been confusing. But today ... it's very clear what is right and what is wrong."
One POWER organizer, the Rev. Nicolas O’Rourke, notes that “as of May of this year there are 6,694 people in our jails. The jails can only hold 6,800. Twenty-five percent of those are pretrials because they couldn’t make bail. [And] 72 percent of individuals awaiting trial are Black.”
O'Rourke said mass incarceration is another problem, because there now are "more people of color in jail than there were slaves in 1850." He said 60 percent of those who are imprisoned are awaiting trial, and African Americans are disproportionately arrested.
"Any venue is a good venue quite frankly. All that we are trying to do is to keep the awareness alive, keep awareness for the injustices - systemic injustice across the country," said Rev. Nicolas O'Rourke, Living Water United Church of Christ.