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8 charged after police, protesters clash over homeless man's arrest

The protesters were charged after they tussled with police over the arrest of a homeless man who tried to board a bus without paying the fare, police said.

EIGHT PEOPLE were arrested Thursday after a vigil honoring female victims of police brutality erupted into a scuffle with Philadelphia Police, authorities said yesterday.

The vigil was "part of a wider call to action, a call to remember," said Taylor Johnson, an organizer with the Philly Coalition for Racial, Economic And Legal Justice, an activist group known for its participation in several "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations.

Johnson said yesterday that demonstrators at the Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue vigil were moving south toward Oxford Street when they saw the arrest of a homeless man who boarded a SEPTA bus without paying the fare. The protesters objected to the arrest because the man is a military veteran and felt he was being picked on, she said.

SEPTA police called for Philadelphia police to assist in the arrest after protesters interfered, said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman. Then, several protesters began to hit an officer and threw objects at others, resulting in the arrests of four people for aggravated assault, she said.

Little said one officer had a cup of red liquid thrown at his face, which led to the arrests of two 23-year-old women. Another officer was hit on the arms several times, she added.

Andrew Busch, a spokesman for SEPTA, said the man who refused to pay the fare also had an outstanding warrant and was taken in without incident. He said SEPTA police arrested one woman who had tried to interfere with the man's arrest. That woman was charged with disorderly conduct, Busch said.

Because of the vigil, Busch said Philadelphia police were already in the vicinity when the incident occurred .

Vigil-goers went to the 22nd Police District, at 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, later that evening to file complaints. Three more were arrested for disorderly conduct then, Little said.

"Most of them were peaceful as they asked for complaint forms and we could accommodate them," Little said. But a few others "were yelling and screaming and had bullhorns," she added.

"We know the First Amendment and we're going to adhere to it," Little said. "But you can't come into a place of business and be like that."