Thousands of people came out onto the streets of Philadelphia on Wednesday and carried out a march rebuking white supremacy and racism in the light of recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The “Philly is Charlottesville” rally saw the participation of more than 2,000 protesters who marched from Congregation Rodeph Shalom Synagogue to Broad Street, reports said. The crowds also swarmed Center City, the business district of the city, and its neighborhoods. Some people referred to the rally as “Unmasking White Supremacy in Philadelphia.”
The event was organized by the interfaith organization, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, and the description of the event on its Facebook page read: “POWER clergy and laity mourn for the freedom fighters injured and killed as they stood against white supremacy this weekend in Charlottesville. We must make it clear that white supremacy is not just a ‘Southern thing.'”
“We must boldly rebuke all forms of bigotry on behalf of love, and on behalf of humanity, we must continue to resist all tactics to create fear and terror in the hearts, souls, and minds of marginalized communities,” the description read.
The organizers called on the protesters to “tear down white supremacist structures in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Videos of the rally were posted on social media that showed some protesters chanting “Down with the Rizzo statue” referring to the former mayor’s statue across from the City Hall. Earlier Wednesday, a man was arrested for throwing eggs at the monument for Frank Rizzo, who used brutal tactics that unfairly targeted African Americans, according to several critics.
The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, in a statement Tuesday, said: “I’m not a big fan of the statue. I wasn’t a big fan of the statue when it went up, but it doesn’t mean that I can unilaterally tear it down. We think now is a good time to have that conversation about the statue’s future. We need to figure out the proper forum for that conversation in a serious, structured way, but now is the right time.”
The city did not have a permit on file for Wednesday’s rally, a representative for the city was quoted as saying by local news website Phillyvoice. However, a hundred police officers monitored the march as it passed through the streets, as per the reports. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the mass transit bus service was delayed due to the protest that was otherwise peaceful.
Several vigils and rallies have been planned in New York, Boston, and Chicago, among other parts of the country, after the recent violence in Charlottesville that erupted Aug. 12 as the far-right groups gathered for “Unite the Right” rally against the city’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The event ended in tragedy as a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others.