More than 500 demonstrators gathered in LOVE Park on a stiflingly hot Father’s Day to support the Philly Queer March for Black Lives, calling for justice and fairness and denouncing the racism that permeates American life.
Sunday marked the 23rd straight day of protest in the city since the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
“There are plenty of people in this crowd who are tired of this, marching, screaming, crying, begging other people to stop killing them,” said Madelyn Morrison, the director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center, a nonprofit that serves LGBTQ youth.
Protesters came dressed for the weather — tank tops and short shorts — and ready to show off their personalities through glittery makeup and platform sneakers with rainbow socks. Parents brought their children. Organizers handed out bottles of water and voter-registration forms.
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One demonstrator came with her Shiba Inu dog, which wore a sign that said, “Shibas for Black Lives Matter.”
“The fight to be free of the cage is never-ending,” said Miyanna Brooks, a longtime advocate in the Philadelphia trans community. “This is the time to break free and soar as high as we can.”
The protesters marched to the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum in an event organized by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, Galaei, William Way LGBT Community Center, Philadelphia Family Pride, and Philadelphia March.
Most people wore protective masks, and tried to stay distanced from one another, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sicken and kill. So far 119,868 Americans have died and more than 2.2 million are infected.
But weeks of protest in Philadelphia, where at times thousands of people crowded together, has so far not resulted in a huge spike in cases.
On Friday, 12 counties including Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery will officially move into the final, less-restrictive “green” stage of reopening. Hard-hit Philadelphia will go green the same day, but city officials will keep some restrictions in place until July 3 or later.
New Jersey hair salons, spas, tattoo parlors and barbershops will be allowed to reopen on Monday, though masks and social distancing are a must.
On Sunday morning, several dozen protesters gathered at the Octavius Catto statue near City Hall, then marched to the Constitution Center to protest Floyd’s killing. The demonstration was organized by the Urban League of Philadelphia to celebrate Black fatherhood, but also to mourn those fathers who have died in what should have been routine encounters with police.
“This is the first Father’s Day George Floyd will not celebrate with his family,” said State Rep. Morgan Cephas, (D., Phila.).
It’s important, she said, that the urgent national conversation about systemic racism goes beyond the issue of police brutality.
“Right now we are standing up for police reform, but we recognize the knee on our neck when it comes to economic progress, education,” she said. “We recognize there are injustices across the entire system.”
State Rep. Jordan A. Harris, (D., Phila.), said that often in the Black community, the importance of fathers is negated. He stressed that spending time with young Black men who need love and caring is also an act of activism.
“Fathering our community is part of being the resistance,” Harris said. “And racism is not a gray area for me. You are either with us or against us. You either value our humanity or you don’t value our humanity.”