January 16, 2021

We affirm the right to free and fair elections in America. We condemn the reprehensible acts carried out by the far-right and extremist groups who have been emboldened over the past four years to become increasingly violent. Last week’s attack on the Capitol was an attack on democracy and an attempt to reject the votes and voices of the Black, Brown, and Indigenous voters who were essential in delivering the November election to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the face of voter suppression, intimidation, and an ongoing pandemic. Their violence attempted to further the misguided and unsuccessful attempts by 147 Republican elected officials to disregard the will of the people, overturn the certified results of the 2020 election, and maintain in power an administration that has acted to uphold white supremacy. To be clear, these efforts failed to have any impact on the outcome of the election.

News reporting has confirmed that the violent, mostly white mobs were assisted by both on- and off-duty members of the police and at least one active member of the military. We watched insurgents force their way into the Capitol as police were overwhelmed. This politically motivated mob violence overwhelmed the police presence on site and was carried out in shocking contrast to the force we have seen used against those peacefully marching for social justice, peacefully advocating for healthcare for all, and peacefully protecting their ancestral lands and water from desecration by oil pipelines. 

We are reminded of the events of 1985 in Philadelphia when elected officials and law enforcement coordinated a bombing of the MOVE community, resulting in the deaths of 11 people (including five children) and the destruction of 65 homes in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood. 36 years later, this trauma still impacts many in our city. While we would never seek an increase in force or violence, one of POP’s core values is justice. We join with those asking for equal justice and transformational change. We hurt for our friends, colleagues, and communities who have suffered trauma after trauma because of institutional racism and civic disenfranchisement. We call for oversight and accountability to make sure that those who serve in positions of power deserve the trust placed in them. 

Both as Philadelphians and Americans, we must do better in addressing inequitable access to jobs, housing, education, food, and healthcare that are the result of systemic injustice. We recognize the value of those in our Philadelphia Orchard Project community who are taking direct action to support our democracy and engage in peaceful demands for social justice. We will continue to educate and empower our partners and the wider community to plant community orchards that enhance access to safe and beautiful green spaces that grow community food sovereignty. We pledge to listen to how we can do better, and to make sure our efforts can best serve the diverse communities in which we work. We hope the orchards we’ve planted, together with our partners, can serve as places of healing and respite, and that the harvests provide sustenance and inspiration. We are committed to strengthening equitable relationships by working alongside one another in the soil so that we can also grow mutual understanding and build a more just future together. 

— Kim Jordan and Phil Forsyth, POP Co-Executive Directors