Note from Dr. Walter Tsou, PNHP Board of Directors.
My impressions of the rally and march?
The turnout was amazing. You organize these things for a year and you never know how it would turn out. Even a week before, we weren’t sure how many would show up, but the word was that buses were coming in from as far away as . . .well Illinois! Turned out that we had probably between 2500-4000 people there.
The rally and march was timed out and to the great credit of Tim Lachman (PNHP), Larry Browne, MD, Travis Parchman (Labor Party) and probably 30 others, we raised close to $19,000 and actually pulled off the rally exactly on time and on budget. We stated that we would meet at 6th and Arch, walk along Chestnut Street and end up at a place outside City Hall for the rally about 12 blocks away. Close to 25 different speakers came up and spoke out for national health insurance and universal health care, including Ralph Nader (Green Party), Rosanna Pelizarri (Medical Reform Group of Canada), Steffie Woolhandler (PNHP), Nick Unger (UNITE), Henry Nicholas (National President of 1199C), Tony Mazzochi (Labor Party), Tim Lachman (local Ad Hoc Chair), Larry Browne (practicing internist), Paul Fink (Past President of the American Psychiatric Assoc), Pedro Rodriquez (Action Alliance of Senior Citizens), ACT-UP, Communist Party, West Virginia Council of Churches, Evonne Tisdale (Philadelphia Unemployment Project) and a few more. It was a stellar performance. And it all ended at 4 PM, just as we stated.
The most exciting part though was really marching down Chestnut Street. As the first demonstration of the Republican National Convention we had swarms of reporters, TV cameras, and radio people there. Helicopters were overhead watching and filming the march. From the front to the back of the group, we probably covered 4-5 city blocks. We couldn’t really tell because it seemed to go on and on.
The march was lead by a hand stitched cloth banner saying Health Care for All held by doctors and nurses in white coats. (The design can be found at www.phillyhealth.org). It included drill teams, senior citizens, children, all kinds of activists, people on stilts, megaphones shouting, “what do we want?” “Health care”, “When do we want it?” “Now”. Hundreds of signs with Universal, Single Payer Health Care; Patients, not Profits; and End racism in Health Care. There was a mock 10 foot Statue of Liberty behind me which was on the front page of the Inquirer. We went by one of the major hospitals, Jefferson and we noted that some of the workers jumped into the parade. Police lined the parade route and police sirens and cars blocked car traffic for us! In short it was very motivating and energizing!!
I caught coverage of the event on three of the local TV stations and the CBS news (15 seconds). We probably were covered on others. Were heard from some that it was picked up by the BBC and was seen in far away places like Jakarta and South Africa.
In short it was a great rally and march and very inspiring.