Sporadic scuffles between protesters and police broke out Wednesday evening after a group of about 50 protesters marching through Center City were prevented from continuing down streets crowded with cars and buses.
Four protesters who struggled with police officers were detained to be issued civil citations, police said.
The march began hours earlier when roughly 100 gathered for the “Anti-Trump Rally for Police Abolition” organized by the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice outside the Philadelphia Police Department.
The rally targeted the police over their union’s endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump, and over what they called the unfair treatment of people of color and police tactics like stop and frisk.
Protester Rufus Farmer demanded police guarding the rally reject the Fraternal Order of Police’s [FOP] endorsement of Donald Trump.
“How many of you are going to stand up to the FOP?” he called to them. “You’re not going to speak up about the FOP or Donald Trump, but you’re still going to call yourself good cops? It’s bulls—.
After the national FOP endorsed Trump, FOP Lodge #5, which represents Philly cops, followed their lead and also endorsed Trump. Someblack Philly cops with the Guardian Civic Leaguedisagreed with that choice.
After the rally, protesters marched against traffic down 7th Street and eventually to City Hall. They went into Rittenhouse Square before encountering a wall of bike cops who stopped them at 18th Street.
The group continued chanting in the middle of the intersection as SEPTA buses and cars were jammedfor blocks.As numerous protesters shoutedaccusations and insults in the faces of police officers, some tried to push past them, leading to a scuffle. Police took one young woman into custody.
Shortly thereafter, several other small scuffles erupted between cops and protesters at various points around the intersection. Three more people were detained before the protesters began to disperse at around 7 p.m.
“We were trying to get them to go along with the flow of traffic for everybody’s safety. Some people wanted to go through the police,” said Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan as he surveyed the protests.
He said safety was the only reason for blocking the march outside Rittenhouse Square. “We’re fine with people marching, as everyone knows,” he said.
Some onlookers disagreed with the protesters’ opposition to Trump.
“I’m an African American and a Democrat. He won fair and square. He’s not even in the White House yet. Let’s just give him a chance,” said Sonya Hodges, 43. “Someone’s getting robbed at gunpoint right now because all these police are here, babysitting.”
But coalition organizer Megan Malachi said giving Trump a chance is the wrong move.
“It’s quite shameful to think that we should give someone who is an ardent white supremacist, someone who has also appointed other white supremacists to his cabinet, that we should give this person a chance to just oppress us even more,” she said.
“I think that every presidency including Barack Obama’s presidency has been a racist, white supremacist presidency,” she added. “The only difference is that he [Trump] is actually telling us what he’s going to do instead of doing it in a covert manner.”