'No Pence! No fear!' Philly crowds protest VP Pence, President Trump's immigration orders
A few hundred sign-toting protesters gathered in freezing temperatures Saturday morning in downtown Philadelphia, a block from Independence Mall, where Vice President Pence made a speech to the Federalist Society at Congress Hall. The group later joined with several thousand protesters at a rally and March for Humanity at City Hall.
"No Pence! No fear! Philly doesn't want you here!" they chanted.
Around noon, Pence spoke to the organization of lawyers about legal issues of the day, including the proper role of courts and President Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Rest assured, we will work with the Senate to ensure that Judge Gorsuch gets an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor one way or another," Pence said.
Emily Rosen, of West Chester, went to the Pence protest with her brother, father and dog. She said it was important that the rallies stay peaceful.
"Everybody needs to feel that they can come out and bring their kids, or that seniors can come, and it will be safe," she said.
Her brother, Greg, said he hoped that local Democrats would pay attention to the concerns raised by the protesters.
"The way you harness these groups is by listening to what they have to say," he said. "Then you can recruit people to run for office who will represent those opinions."
Just after noon, the protesters surged onto Market Street, moving west before turning south toward Chestnut Street. They moved among passing cars, disrupting traffic as police officers walked and biked alongside them.
Police blocked the march at some intersections, and closed streets to traffic to make way for the crowd and to guide the demonstration back toward Market Street.
The march eventually looped back around to Independence Mall, with protesters shouting, "This is what democracy looks like!"
Protesters waved signs that read, "Wall Street has bought the White House," "Keep your religion out of my politics," and "Resist."
After Pence's speech had concluded, some protesters headed west on Market Street toward City Hall to join several thousand people who were gathered for a scheduled March for Humanity protest at Thomas Paine Plaza, organized by the American Friends Service Committee.
Church leaders and others spoke to the large crowd, defending Philadelphia's status as a sanctuary city, and denouncing President Trump's recent entry restrictions on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m., the group took to the streets, marching around City Hall and east on Chestnut Street. At one point, the protest stretched from the Paine plaza to 13th and Chestnut, police said. The group ended the march back at the plaza.
Accompanied by police escorts, the group walked peacefully through the city, singing songs and chanting. There were no arrests.
Kerri Kennedy, associate general secretary for the AFSC, said she was happy with the turnout, given that the march was planned and organized in only a week.
"A week, and on such a cold day," she said. "People want to get out here lately, that's obvious."
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