A BLACK MAN carrying a protest sign and a white man in an Eagles jersey stood on Pattison Avenue last night, debating race in America as cops, fans and protesters mixed together all around them.
The Eagles had just lost to the Seattle Seahawks - and minutes earlier, hundreds of protesters had lain across Broad and Pattison, a "die-in" to remember the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, and to raise awareness, they said, of social inequality.
The black man - Bernard Lambert, 43, of Delaware County - carried a sign that read, "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police." He was trying to make the white man in a Brian Dawkins jersey understand that life was different for him because of skin color.
"Take a minute to step outside yourself for once. Open up your mind," Lambert urged.
The Broad and Pattison protest was organized by POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), and several city clergy leaders spoke via bullhorn by a Broad Street subway entrance before the game ended. Some felt the location - the middle of a route that would be jammed with Eagles fans and their cars - was ideal.
"We can spend millions of dollars on football games but we can't fund our schools," thundered Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, of the Living Water United Church of Christ.
Susanna Gilbertson, 38, of West Philly, had brought her daughter Zora, 5, to the protest. She said it was important to help children understand large issues, and the girl responded in a simple, powerful way.
The sign she created said, "Don't hurt people. Be nice to each other," with two stick figures holding hands.
"We want to raise an anti-racist white child," Gilbertson said.
Although traffic briefly became a clog of honking cars on Broad Street, police said they had ample notice about the protest from POWER and diverted exiting Eagles fans away from the throng of protesters with a barrier of bicycle cops.
Some fans shouted obscenities at the protesters, though, while others assumed none of them had jobs. Fans started chants of their own, as well, making references to looting in Ferguson. One man who said he was an "observer" held a broken-up camera in his hands and claimed an irate fan had swatted it to the ground.
Many fans, however, simply complimented the police for their work.
About 8 p.m., after protesters had risen from the frigid street, First Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said there had been no arrests.
Lambert continued his conversation with the man in the Brian Dawkins jersey, which was going nowhere as they headed west on Pattison Avenue.
The Eagles fan was also a Delco native, but there was a clear chasm between them.
"Seriously, your issue is not being able to get a cab?" the man asked Lambert.
The man in the Dawkins jersey wouldn't give his name unless this reporter weighed in on the debate and details about the shooting of Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
The man held an open can of Coors during the entire conversation as dozens of officers filed past him, and he walked away with his beer when it was over.