Black Lives Matter Protest Hit Center City This Morning

The hour-long march was led by a white organization calling for greater police accountability.

Black Lives Matter protestors gather in front of City Hall during an early morning demonstration.

Black Lives Matter protestors gather in front of City Hall during an early morning demonstration.

Familiar protest chants echoed through the streets of Center City early Monday morning — “Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” — but this time, they were being hollered by a crowd of mostly white demonstrators.

The Philadelphia chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), which describes itself as a network of whites organized for racial justice, led a march that began at City Hall around 8:15 a.m. and ended back there an hour later, where protestors called on Mayor Jim Kenney to “take a stand for black lives.”

Police scrambled to reroute rush hour traffic as the marchers moved west across Market Street, up 16th, and then back down Broad. Some motorists honked their horns in solidarity as the demonstrators yelled “Hey hey! Ho ho! These racist cops have got to go!”

It was the sixth day in a row that protestors have marched in Philadelphia in the wake of fatal police shootings last week of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota, and an ambush attack in Dallas that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded.

“I think after the last week, so many of our hearts were broken. We were outraged and grieving alongside our black and brown siblings, our friends who are so upset because they recognize that at any moment they can be targeted and killed by the police here in Philadelphia,” said John Bergen, a SURJ spokesman.

“We wanted to create space for white people to say that we will not stand for police brutality. We will not stand for racism. We know that we live in a society where white lives are privileged. Even though we benefit from this, we can’t allow this to stand.”

Demonstrators read the names of numerous people of color who have been fatally shot by police in separate incidents across the country during the last several years. They also called on city officials to become more proactive in dealing with police reforms.

Frank Ross, 52, was among a handful of black demonstrators who participated in the march. “Hopefully we got our message across, but we got a lot more work to do,” he said, after the protest wrapped up in City Hall’s courtyard. Ross said police officials need to clean up the corruption in their own ranks, but he also expressed dismay over the attacks in Dallas.

“All cops ain’t bad. You got innocent cops, good cops that lost their lives, and I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “We keep fighting and fighting, and we’re not going to get nowhere. Before it’s over, there’s just going to be a big war here in our own state.”


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