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July 05, 2020

Fourth of July protests against systemic racism take place across Philly

Peaceful demonstrations have regularly-occurred across the city since late May

Protests Racism
Philly Fourth of July protests Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

City Hall in Center City was the site of several protests across Philadelphia on the Fourth of July.

As many residents of the Philly region spent the Fourth of July holiday at the beach, nearby a pool, or attending a barbecue, others took to the city’s streets on America’s 244th birthday to protest systemic racism and police brutality.

At least four separate peaceful demonstrations were held across Philadelphia on Saturday. The number of scheduled protests led the city to implement a traffic reduction on Saturday morning in Center City from 5th to 20th Streets between Vine and Walnut Streets. 

Only employees and residents were allowed to enter the area, and those traveling were urged to use caution. The travel advisory was lifted Saturday evening. 

The first protest of the day, called “Fist For The Fallen,” was held on Saturday morning and organized by the political organization Red Fist Rising to honor Black ancestors who died while as slaves in America. 

It started along John F. Kennedy Boulevard outside of 30th Street Station, and demonstrators marched to City Hall where a ceremony was held upon arrival. 

The protesters, who wore red and black clothing, had their firsts painted or gloved with red. Each of the marchers held their red fists in the air for nine minutes to honor George Floyd, a Black man who was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as three other police officers watched. All four police officers have been fired from the Minneapolis department. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and the other police officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Another protest took place outside of the Municipal Services Building in Center City and made its way to the Octavius Catto statue nearby City Hall.

The annual Fourth of July demonstration, which was organized by MOVE, called for both an end to police brutality in Philly and for the release of Black activist Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison.

Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder after being found guilty of killing a Philly police officer in 1982, according to WHYY. However, activists have been seeking to overturn the verdict since then, according to Billy Penn.

The event, which garnered hundreds of people, consisted of a 9-minute moment of silence to honor Floyd and other African Americans killed by police, as well as several guest speakers.

A third rally called the Black Trans Assembly for Abolition was held on Saturday afternoon in support of Black transgender people. Hundreds of protesters marched about 1-mile west through Old City from Chestnut and Front Streets, past the African American Museum in Philadelphia, to the Liberty Bell and Independence Mall. 

Lastly, a march put together by Refuse Fascism Philly from Dilworth Park to City Hall on Saturday evening called for an end to the Trump administration, according to CBS3.

Peaceful demonstrations calling out systemic racism and police brutality have regularly-occurred across the city since late May.

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