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July 08, 2016

Philly protest group on Facebook: '... when they shoot us we shoot back'

Philly Coalition for REAL Justice organizer says group does not condone any killing but 'we are not telling people how to feel'

A Philadelphia group that plans to protest during the Democratic National Convention later this month posted an inflammatory message on its Facebook page calling for people to gather at Philadelphia City Hall "in solidarity" with the Dallas police shootings by a sniper.

Around midnight Friday, as the situation in Dallas unfolded – where five police officers were shot and killed and seven more were injured – Philly Coalition for REAL Justice posted, "The revolution has begun.... Folks are gathering here at city hall in solidarity with what's happening in Dallas demanding that when they shoot us we shoot back. #BlackLiberation #BlackGunsMatter."

It had generated 15 'likes' by 6 p.m. Friday. It also had drawn several comments from people criticizing the Coalition.

The post seemingly supported the shootings of the 12 Dallas police officers. But Erica Mines, an organizer with Philly Coalition for REAL Justice said later Friday that the organization does not condone killing police or anyone else.

"We don't justify police killings, but we do understand why Dallas happened," Mines said, adding that the black community has been sieged by police brutality and misconduct for years. "We understand that there is a community of black and brown people who are tired of police."

Mines said the coalition will not encourage its supporters to hold any particular feelings toward the victims.

"People exercise that through free will," Mines said. "That is not our job or our position. ... No killing is OK. But at the same time, we're not telling people how to feel."

The coalition has organized various demonstrations during the last 18 months to protest police killings of black people, police brutality and stop and frisk policies. The group was set to demonstrate Friday in North Philly and Saturday in Fairhill to voice its outrage at the police killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile.

Black Lives Matter demonstrators were peacefully protesting those deaths in Dallas on Thursday night when a gunman opened fire on police, killing five officers and wounding seven others.

Philly Coalition for REAL Justice is planning a march against police brutality and state repression during the Democratic National Convention, which runs from July 25 to July 28.