"Philly is Charlottesville" marches against racism in Center City

Thursday, August 17, 2017
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"Philly is Charlottesville" marched against racism in Center City. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 16, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thousands of protesters marched through Center City Philadelphia Wednesday night, speaking out against white supremacists.

On Facebook, more than 2,000 people said they would attend the "Philly is Charlottesville March and Rally," also being called "Unmasking White Supremacy in Philadelphia."

The estimated 2,000 to 2,200 protesters began their march at Congregation Rodeph Shalom Synagogue on North Broad Street at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The large crowd then moved south on Broad Street.

Action News spoke to several protesters who said they believed President Donald Trump did not come out strongly enough against white supremacists and Neo-Nazis after Saturday's deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Kate Sunbeen of South Philadelphia said, "It's shameful that our president hasn't denounced what happened, 100 percent. So we are here to say, 'We don't support that.'"

"And I want him to prosecute those people the same way any terrorist would be prosecuted," said Susan Reardon of Center City.

Protesters from the group Black Lives Matter were among those marching Wednesday, chanting "Down with the Rizzo statue!"

The call echoed movements in several states to remove statues depicting prominent members of the Confederacy.

A statue of Rizzo stands outside the Municipal Services Building (MSB) across from Philadelphia City Hall.

Rizzo, who served as Philadelphia's police commissioner from 1968 to 1971 and mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980, is seen by a number of protesters as a divisive and even racist figure.

Earlier in the day, a man was arrested after throwing eggs at the statue.

But as the marchers arrived at the Arch Street United Methodist Church for 8 p.m. rally, organizers also said this:

"It's not just about statues, but people who are self-professed Neo-Nazis."

Among those on hand at the rally was Larry Krasner, the Democratic candidate for Philadelphia district attorney.

"They don't like Nazis, well neither do I. I think most Americans remember that this was a group of people we had to go to war with," Krasner said.

Indeed participants were reminded by at least one rabbi who was in Virginia during the violence last weekend that Neo-Nazis are a real threat.

"They would kill every person in this room. You get that? Nobody here is safe from their hatred," he told protesters before the march began.

Despite heated words and a heavy police presence Wednesday night, the march and rally wrapped up with no violence and no arrests reported.


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