Seven members of Decarcerate PA, a grassroots organization dedicated to curbing prison expansion and what it says is rampant incarceration in Pennsylvania, were arrested Monday morning, Nov. 19, after blocking the construction entrance of Graterford Prison with school desks, apples and a plastic school house.
"Seven protesters were putting their bodies on the line about how serious they are about getting this project canceled," Decarcerate PA's Thomas Dichter said.
The organization, which posted a video of the early-morning protest, has been a loud voice against a $400 million project to increase the prison population in the Philadelphia suburbs.
"These new prisons represent an expansion of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania and a continuation of policies that lock people up instead of giving our communities the resources they need to thrive," said a statement released by Decarcerate PA after the arrests.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, seven protesters seated at school desks were ordered to disperse and failed to do so.
The protestors, all Philadelphia residents, were charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, failure of disorderly persons to disperse upon official order and disorderly conduct, and bail was set at 10% of $5,000 by District Justice Albert J. Augustine, according to police.
"It was an exciting event – and it it is also a matter of grave importance," said Dichter.
The group, which protested at Graterford over the summer, planned to hold another event in Philadelphia later on Monday.