Several hundred peaceful demonstrators on Sunday briefly took over the Vine Street Expressway, though unlike a similar protest last month, police allowed the action to move forward without using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets.
The marchers gathered Sunday at City Hall about 1 p.m. to protest the Philadelphia Police Department’s widely denounced actions on I-676 on June 1 and promote the Black Lives Matter movement. They then proceeded northward, accompanied by officers on bicycles, and entered the expressway, where police had stopped traffic.
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The protesters later exited the highway using a ramp at 22nd Street.
Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw later apologized for the police tactics, calling the use of force that day “unjustifiable” and admitting that they had offered incorrect and uncorroborated explanations for why officers needed to respond with force.
An officer who was accused of ripping face masks off kneeling protesters to douse their faces with pepper spray was suspended with intent to dismiss.
Demonstrators on Sunday said the city’s apologies were insufficient and came too late.
“We’re leaving our demands here at the oppressors’ front door, in the pigs’ face,” Mecca Bullock, an organizer, said outside City Hall before demonstrators dispersed around 3 p.m. Looking toward police officers, Bullock said, “We’re coming for your jobs! We’re coming for your guns!”
The protest was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which describes itself on Facebook as “a working-class party of leaders and activists from many different struggles, founded to promote the movement for revolutionary change.”
Demonstrators held signs saying “No more racist police terror,” “Stop the War on Black America,” and “White silence is violence.” They shouted anti-police slogans, such as “No good pig in a racist system!” and “All power to the people! All power to the people! No power to the pig! No power to the pig!”
John Carr, 23, of West Philadelphia, said he decided to protest Sunday because he was “tired of police brutality, tired of state-sanctioned violence.”
Carr said he graduated this year from West Chester University with a master’s degree in criminal justice. The tear gassing episode on I-676 last month “made me a little more cynical toward the very system I chose to study in school,” he said.