HUNDREDS of demonstrators flooded the city's streets yesterday pledging solidarity with Baltimore.
But unlike the chaotic riots that tore the Charm City apart earlier this week, last night was a relatively peaceful one in the City of Brotherly Love.
Peaceful, but not quiet.
A massive crowd armed with drums, banners and signs and echoing chants moved through Center City and Chinatown, just barely dipping into North Philly during its lengthy march.
Its message was clear: Deaths like that of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered fatal spinal injuries allegedly while riding in a Baltimore police van, underscore a problem with policing in the 21st century.
"We're out here to let police know that they can't intimidate us," Asa Khalif, one of the demonstration's more vocal organizers, told the Daily News as he marched at the front of the crowd.
"The days of them putting fear in our hearts are over," said Khalif, a relative of Brandon Tate-Brown, who was fatally shot by Philly police during a car stop Dec. 15.
Tensions rose a handful of times, including a shoving match on Vine Street as protesters tried to push past a police blockade to gain access to Interstate 676.
The scuffle left a few people with minor injuries, including a high-ranking police official with a split lip and a young protester who wore his bloody nose like a badge of honor.
Two people were arrested, a police source said. Both were released later in the night, and it was unclear if they would face charges.
Other run-ins were less confrontational, including a surreal flare-up near Rittenhouse Square in which protesters screamed in the faces of diners on the sidewalk outside the upscale French eatery Parc.
Police struggled to estimate the size of the demonstration, which waxed and waned as it snaked through the city, but one source put it at about 1,000 people at its peak. By 10:30 last night, the crowd had dwindled to about 150.
Throughout the day, it was an eclectic collection of people. Young, middle-age, old. Moms carried homemade signs in one hand and pulled their kids with the other, the tots holding miniature signs of their own.
One such duo was Jeannine Cook, 31, and her daughter Jenisis, 6, who trekked up from South Philly to City Hall for the rally that kicked off the night's march.
"I want her to see that protests can be peaceful," Cook said. "A lot of what we see on the news, the violence, it's not always like that."
Jenisis added her own reason for attending the rally: "I came out because I don't want any more black people to die."
That rally, held at the beginning of the evening rush hour in Dilworth Park, drew protesters from across the city and beyond.
Pam Africa, a member of MOVE and staunch supporter of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, spoke.
So did Tanya Brown-Dickerson, the mother of Brandon Tate-Brown.
"I didn't think this would get so large," Brown-Dickerson said to the demonstrators, thanking them for attending.
She railed against the state of police-community relations in Philly, claiming that her son had been "gunned down like a dog."
"Why are we having such a hard time being protected by those supposed to serve us?" she asked.
Deandra Jefferson, an organizer for Philly REAL Justice, the group that sponsored the rally and subsequent march, said the goal was to be "honest."
She took aim at issues affecting local minorities, including gentrification, a lack of jobs and high incarceration rates.
"You put them together, and you have a Baltimore situation in Philly," she said.
"Because what's going on there is going on here and everywhere else."
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