For the Third Consecutive Week, We Demanded Action on Gerrymandering.
If Pennsylvania legislators think that we are ever going to stop demanding action of the grassroots-supported gerrymandering reform, they are dead wrong.
Two weeks ago, MarchOnHarrisburg and other pro-democracy, anti-corruption organizations, camped-in at Governor Wolf’s office with a promise to return if he did not call legislators back from vacation to vote on clean redistricting reform. After no action was taken by the governor’s office, MarchOnHarrisburg returned.
On Thursday, July 5, about two dozen activists set up camp outside of Governor Wolf’s home in Mt. Wolf, bearing signs that asked, “WHERE’S WOLF?” as well as life-size ‘Gerrymander,’ and ‘Waldo’ puppets. During the occupation, the office wanted to make this compromise: Once the legislature is back in session, redistricting reform will be the top priority. However, because of the deadline for the Constitutional Amendment that redistricting reform requires, protestors denied and continued to camp-out. Later that day, Wolf’s office responded this protest with the following statement:
“Even before I had the honor of being elected Governor, I supported removing politics from redistricting, as well as a true independent commission to draw Pennsylvania’s lines. Though bills have advanced in the legislature to address this issue, I urge leaders in the General Assembly to come together to finalize a compromise before the end of the month. If they do, I am ready to call a special session for a vote on a consensus, bipartisan redistricting reform proposal.”
To help ensure a special session was called with a vote on clean redistricting reform, MarchOnHarrisburg spent the past week drumming up support from leadership to in both chambers work together to pass a bill consistent with what the citizens of Pennsylvania have demanded for more than a year by supporting an up-or-down vote on the Samuelson amendment to SB 22.
On Thursday, constituents, along with other MoH volunteers, attempting to meet with Senator Costa, House Minority Leader Dermody, and Speaker Turzai at their local offices in and around Pittsburgh. The only legislator they were only able to meet with Costa.
“I’m in favor of an up-or-down vote on the Samuelson Amendment, whether that is called through a special session or through bringing the House back into session,” Senator Costa told MoH in a meeting.
On Friday, July 13, MarchOnHarrisburg turned its attention to Speaker Turzai, who refused to directly meet with MarchOnHarrisburg, despite nearly a hundred requests from both MoH and Fair Districts PA.
Friday morning, we knocked on the door of Speaker Turzai's house, attempting to deliver a letter and get a meeting with the Speaker. We were once again denied a meeting.
Neither his Capitol nor District Offices had 'any idea' where the Speaker was. We told both offices and his family that we would be waiting on the porch until we received an answer from the speaker.
Before the police arrived, the crowd chanted and sang songs like: "Hey Speaker Turzai! Here's what we're demander-ing. Get them back to Harrisburg and end gerrymandering."
After an hour, instead of a meeting or a response, six activists, including a constituent of the representative, were arrested. At the time of writing, they are still in jail.