As Wolf takes office, activists plan protests

As Wolf takes office, activists plan protests
Courtesy of Wolf for PA

As Gov. Tom Wolf takes office Tuesday, activists are already lining up to protest and lobby the new governor for his attention, action and time.

The “PA Against Fracking” coalition, with 88 member groups, will rally in Harrisburg across the street from the capital as Wolf is sworn into office as governor to demand an ban or moratorium on fracking, citing health risks and environmental damage.

“Gov. Wolf will not be able to skirt this issue by ignoring the science,” said Josh Fox, anti-fracking activist and director of the documentary “Gasland,” who will be at the protest.

“Pennsylvania is a test case for all the evils of fracking … Why is Wolf ignoring this?” Fox asked. “He is continuing Tom Corbett’s policy of human rights degradation in Pennsylvania for the interests of multinational oil corporations.”

Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth and a member of PA Against Fracking, said the group wants Wolf to ban fracking statewide, or to issue a moratorium on drilling new fracking wells.

“We really need Gov. Wolf to pay attention to what’s happening to people now — not in some hypothetical way, but now, because it’s actually happening right now,” Feridun said.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Liberty, a pro-Second Amendment rights group, will also hold a “Right to Bear Arms” rally outside the Capitol during Wolf’s swearing-in ceremony. Members are also planning to reserve seats at the ceremony which they will not occupy, to create as many empty seats as possible.

Steve Piotrowski, president of the group, said they are deeply concerned by Wolf’s calls during his campaign for universal background checks, a ban on semi-automatic rifles, and allowing municipalities to enact their own gun control ordinances — which they said would be unconstitutional.

“Tom Wolf has the clear intent of violating both the US and Pennsylvania constitutions, and he will be an oath breaker from the moment he is sworn in,” Piotrowski said in an email.

“The whole point of this rally is to put Tom Wolf and his statists’ clique on notice. Because if any ‘anti-gun’ legislation is signed in to law, we will openly and cheerfully disobey that unjust law. Our Founding Fathers disobeyed unjust laws, Rosa Parks disobeyed an unjust law, and we are prepared to do the same if that day ever comes. With Wolf in office it might just be a whole lot sooner,” he wrote.

Education activists from Action United have no rally planned, but are releasing an education platform they want Wolf to follow.

“We’re passionate about our beliefs. These are our children in our communities,” said Kia Hinton, chair of Action United’s board of directors and a parent of three kids in Philly schools.

Hinton, of Southwest Philadelphia, acknowledged that with a Republican legislature, issues like a “fair funding formula” might be difficult to achieve.

Still, Hinton said, as governor Wolf will have the power to abolish the School Reform Commission and put Philadelphia schools under local control; issue a moratorium on new charter schools and review charters currently open; and end the “school-to-prison pipeline” by increasing the availability of social services at schools.

“We were dissatisfied with what our last governor [Corbett] was doing, the road he was taking, we said we don’t agree with this. The hard work we did in getting him out showed a lot of muscle,” Hinton said. “If he [Wolf] doesn’t work with us in the way we think he should and the way we promised, I think we showed that we can get him out of there.”

Wolf was not available for an interview for this story prior to his inauguration and a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.