On Saturday, a rally took place on Independence Mall in Philadelphia where about 35 conservatives gathered for a “We The People” rally inside a barricaded area on Market Street. Some attendees carried American flags or wore Trump-related regalia.
The rally remained mostly peaceful with only four people being arrested. At the close of the event, taxi drivers were observed refusing to transport the white supremacists.
This is completely surreal. Fascists are trying to take taxis , but the drivers keep leaving whenever they realize what’s happening. pic.twitter.com/lcwPucpSPf
— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) November 17, 2018
These drivers were taking a stand in a state that just recently had 11 Jewish people killed at a synagogue. In fact, during this particular rally about 35 people were worshipping at the historic Congregation Mikveh Israel synagogue, on Fourth Street between Market and Arch.
Rabbi Albert Gabbai said:
‘We have to love. Love leads in many directions. Without love is hatred, which only has one path — to violence.’
Philadelphia’s local paper, The Inquirer, reported:
‘On the south side of Market, several hundred counterprotesters denounced white supremacy and bigotry in a gathering that felt at times like a street festival. Attendees frequently chanted, sang, and sometimes danced as a Sousaphone player belted out tunes including the Action News theme song. Many attendees carried signs saying “No racism, sexism, fascism” or addressing related themes.’
It was predicted that the rally would be attended by hate groups such as the Proud Boys or Three Percenters, but there was no indication that they were in attendance. Among the four people who were arrested were a 23 year-old man who got into a fight as the protests wound down and punched a police captain, a 31-year-old woman for disorderly conduct, a 35-year-old man for failure to disperse, and a 26-year-old man for failure to disperse and marijuana possession.
The events began about 10:30 a.m. when the police used their bicycles to force about 100 counterprotesters to another side of the street away from the rally. One counterprotester was arrested to failure to move. Christian Debuque who came to protest the rally said:
‘We came because we wanted to let the alt-right and neo-Nazis know that they’re not welcome in Philly.’
One couple Jim O’Connor, 49, and Melanie Fortino, 50, said they wanted to show their opposition to bigotry and hatred. They held a LGBT flag and a “Resist” flag. Fortino said:
‘Certain things are right and certain things are wrong.’
Although the event had attracted social media attention, O’Connor said to show your support:
‘you’ve got to actually be there.’
One of the rally attenders, Ted Chmielnicki, 39, asked the crowd:
‘What is the greatest country in the world?’
They responded by yelling:
Chmielnicki, who wore an American flag bandanna on his head, said:
‘We’re not here to fight. We’re here to do exactly what we said we’d do.’
Then, he went on to describe what they were doing as celebrating the Constitution.
According to The Inquirer:
‘As the afternoon wore on, the crowd of counterprotesters continued to swell, reaching several hundred people. At least two carried “Antifascist Action” flags, and others had banners, but the event took on a nonpolitical and almost festive tone. People wore knitted Gritty hats and Gritty shirts to celebrate the new Flyers mascot (which also has been adopted as a meme by some Antifa anti-fascist groups), four attendees carried Gritty signs, one man wore a butterfly-wing cape, and musicians performed with Sousaphones, piccolo, and drums.’
more gritty artwork. pic.twitter.com/xJwQL88zdy
— Bethany Ao (@BethanyAo) November 17, 2018
Featured image is a screenshot from YouTube