In the shadow of Philadelphia City Hall and surrounded by dozens of city police officers, around 50 demonstrators gathered Wednesday evening, calling for justice for Jacob Blake, the Black man whom Wisconsin police shot multiple times in the back on Sunday.
For Olivia Jones of Delaware County, the protest was one of many she said she’s brought her children, Dallas, 8, and Houston, 7, to since the police killing of George Floyd in May in Minneapolis sparked a national uprising over racial injustice and police brutality.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Kenosha, and to protest the constant, senseless violence against Black and brown people in this country,” she said. “Fortunately, Jacob Blake has survived, but he wasn’t intended to. This is part of events that are spiraling out of control ... and we need to bring a voice to stand up and speak to it.”
The rally was led by Refuse Fascism Philly, a local chapter of a national organization calling for the ouster of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a message repeated throughout the demonstration as speakers connected the shooting in Kenosha, Wis., to the administration.
“This is a time when we should be screaming ‘enough is enough,’ louder than ever,” Sam Goldman of Refuse Fascism told the crowd, saying the fight against police brutality and racism and the fight to oust Trump from office are linked.
The demonstration came on the day a 17-year-old was arrested in the killings of two people during protests in Kenosha, and NBA teams boycotted playoff games in protest of Blake’s shooting. On Sunday, police shot Blake seven times in the back as he entered a vehicle with his children inside, leading to three nights of unrest in Kenosha and protests across the country. Blake, 29, survived but is paralyzed from the waist down and will need a “miracle” to be able to walk again, his family has said.
Captured on cellphone video and spread widely on social media, the police shooting of Blake has ignited new protests across the United States, three months after the cellphone-recorded death of Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer ignited uprisings across the country.
As helicopters circled overhead, protesters marched from City Hall to Rittenhouse Square, chanting, “Silence is complicity with white supremacy” and “What side are you on?”
“Now is the time to take to the streets,” Jones told the crowd. “This is a problem 400 years in the making ... but I hope my children are the last generation to fight this oppressive regime.”
The demonstration came on the heels of a summer of unrest in Philadelphia and around the nation, and less than 24 hours after destruction erupted near the University of Pennsylvania campus, leaving windows smashed and prompting campus police to warn students and staff to remain indoors. An anticapitalist group taking part in what it called the “Summer of Rage” claimed responsibility in a post that appeared Wednesday on Philly Anti-Capitalist, a clearinghouse for local antiauthoritarian and anarchist groups.
“There was a surprising amount of destruction,” read the post, which said the group was marching in solidarity with Philadelphia sanitation workers, Black Lives Matter, and protests over the police shooting of Blake. Organizers involved in other protests on behalf of those causes have disavowed property destruction in their pursuit of social justice goals.
Roughly 60 people in black clothes and donning black masks gathered at Clark Park on Tuesday and began marching, quickly cutting a swath of damage along 40th Street before dispersing about 40 minutes later.
In their wake, several businesses were left damaged, including a PNC bank, a coffee shop, a pizza parlor, a bar, the Free Library branch at 40th and Walnut Streets, and a university residence hall that was spray-painted with the phrase “Nerds Call 911.”