Protesters harshly criticize police in North Philadelphia

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- They called for revolution, they called police pigs and occupiers and even saluted the Dallas sniper.

That's how the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice voiced anger and vitriol at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia Friday night.

"This is your neighborhood, and we are occupying just like it should: by the people, for the people," shouted one protester.

"There's no such thing as a good cop in a racist system," shouted another.

Dozens of police officers, many of them African Americans, stood by, duty-bound to protect the protesters even as those protesters harshly criticized them.

None of the officers were allowed to talk on camera, but many told me privately they were disappointed by the rhetoric.

They said police are not occupiers, but men and women trying to keep peace in violent neighborhoods where black men are killing black men in record numbers.

In a troubling coincidence, Friday night's protest began just a few steps from where Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson was gunned down while trying to protect innocent people from an armed robber inside a Gamestop store back in 2015.

Erica Mines is one of the organizers of the protest.

When asked where the protesters' strong words were coming from, Mines told me, "They are coming from a place of hurt, anger, pain and frustration, and also being scared as well."

The protesters marched through North Philadelphia, stopping occasionally as police slowly followed them.

During pauses in the march, police kept a watchful eye above, mindful of the deadly sniper attack in Dallas that claimed the lives of five officers less than 24 hours before.

It's a disturbing reality that Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross acknowledged Friday.

"We respect peoples' rights," said Ross. "And we have to protect our officers as well."

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