12 Arrested in Center City Protest of Alton Sterling Shooting

Activists protesting police killings of African-Americans rallied for two hours and temporarily blocked ramps to I-676.

Activists gathered for nearly two hours in Center City yesterday evening after a violent, viral video of police shooting a black man in Louisiana led to a national outcry.

Crowds gathered to protest the death of Alton Sterling, 37, who was pinned to the ground by multiple officers and shot repeatedly outside a convenience store he frequented in Baton Rouge. He was a father of five.

Black Lives Matter protesters and others who decried police shootings of African-Americans marched in and around Center City, starting near 13th and Market streets and eventually ending near 15th and Vine streets, where they staged a sit-in and temporarily blocked ramps to the Vine Street Expressway.

At least 12 people were arrested, according to police. SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel tweeted that some demonstrators peacefully requested arrest.

The group organized via Facebook.

The event description reads:

Clearly this is REVOLUTION time. We know this. We are gathering to shut down center city and business as usual as folks continue to move through their day as if another black body has not hit the ground. We will shake this city so that they feel the wrath of the people. Come through! Bring your thoughts, your rage, your sadness…all of it.

Sterling is one of 561 people killed by police in 2016, The Guardian reportsAccording to the news organization, the rate of death for young black men killed by police in 2015 was five times higher than that of young white men.

Two officers involved in the Louisiana incident, Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni, were put on administrative leave as the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the F.B.I. and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rogue launched an investigation into the shooting.

Yesterday evening, a video emerged that shows the body of a black man from Minnesota who appears to have just been shot by police, as his girlfriend, who filmed the video, claims. She said the man had been stopped while driving with her and her daughter in the backseat, and that police shot him as he reached for his license. The man, who news outlets are identifying as 32-year-old Philando Castile, was carrying a gun, and was licensed to do so, his girlfriend said.

There have been discussions of a possible demonstration in Center City Thursday on the page of the same Facebook group that organized yesterday’s march.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.