Close to one hundred protestors came out to march throughout Center City, Philadelphia, in what protestors called “solidarity with Baltimore,” [after Freddie Gray’s death.]
The police misconduct case rocked the nation and set Baltimore on fire with violent protests. The protests began in response to 25 year old Freddie Gray, who died on April 19 while in police custody. Freddie Gray was arrested for allegedly carrying a switchblade on April 12. Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide, and investigation into six BPD officers has began, more here.
The “Baltimore Riots” as they’ve been coined inspired the “Philly is Baltimore” protest that began on April 30th at City Hall, with close to 600 people gathering at City Hall. The protest began at 4:30pm and went well into the evening.
The protest was peaceful, besides a tense ten minutes as the protestors attempted to march onto the Vine Street Expressway, only to be met by PPDs’ batons. Three arrests were made, but the protest remained peaceful. Chief of SEPTA Transit Police Thomas J. Nestell III tweeted “This was a fantastic success story! Huge credit to marchers and mad respect to @PhillyPolice. PHILLY ROCKS!” in regards to how peaceful the protest was.
Philadelphians joined together for a second wave of Philly is Baltimore protests on May 1. The protest started around 6:30pm on 2nd St. and South St. and made its way throughout Center City, walking down Walnut Street, ending at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “All Day, All Night, Freddie Gray Didn’t Have to Die” could be found throughout the crowd.
The reasons people were marching ranged from standing in solidarity with Baltimore, to fighting against systematic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality.
“What I’m out here for is that there are minorities and other people being shot dead and abused by police everyday, after all that stops then we can talk about cops lives.” said Jason Farmer, a protestor at both marches.
A recurring chant in the beginning hours of the march was “What do we want?” “Dead cops.” “When do we want it?” “Now.”
“All of that is coming from frustration, of an oppressive system, decades of holding people down, holding people’s parents down, and their parents parents down,” said Rufus Farmer, a protestor at both marches. “It’s bottled up frustration.”
Despite frustrated chants, the protest remained peaceful. Some arguments could be heard between individual protestors and Philadelphia Police throughout the demonstration.
Several members of Philadelphia PD stated they were there to protect the protestors and those around them. The protest dispersed around 9:30pm Friday night with no arrests made.
The protest was organized randomly, as opposed to Thursday’s “Philly is Baltimore” protest that organized via a Facebook event. Flyers were passed out at Thursday’s protest with hints at Friday’s protest, but no organizer came forth about Friday’s smaller protest. Friday’s protestors passed around a notepad with emails to keep in contact about future events.
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