Protests return to Thomas Paine Plaza; this time, against Trump/Pence, not Rizzo

At Philadelphia’s Thomas Paine Plaza, the attention Friday had been on the controversial statue of former Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank L. Rizzo, which Mayor Kenney has announced he wants moved.

But Saturday afternoon, the focus of the 200 or so who convened outside the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall was “the Trump/Pence regime,” as the activists from RefuseFascism.org put it.

Making a return visit to the plaza was the “Trump Rat,” a 15-foot inflatable caricature of the president – with bouffant hair, red tie, and Confederate flag-style cuff links – that first appeared by the Rizzo statue on Oct. 23, the 97th birthday anniversary of the city’s late leader.

Camera icon GENEVA HEFFERNAN / Staff Photographer
Refuse Fascism organized an anti-Trump and Pence march through Center City, Philadelphia on Saturday, November 4, 2017.

The gathering, punctuated by speeches, began as a calm affair on the plaza, transitioning shortly after 3:30 p.m. to a march through Center City similar to those planned throughout the country.

“We’re launching daily protests worldwide against this regime that’s playing nuclear roulette  with the planet,” said Samantha Goldman, an organizer of the march. “Positive social change didn’t happen without people in the streets. The people of the world are really depending on us to drive out this regime.”

 

 

Meanwhile, a bride took the protest in stride as participants wished her well.

As marchers headed toward Rittenhouse Square, they were confronted by counterprotesters. One of them was a young Trump supporter, who yelled, “Three more years! Seven more, actually!”

When the marchers reached the park, more counterprotesters appeared. Though most of the anti-fascist protesters marched on, some stayed behind at the park as an argument began.

An apparent white supremacist, a man who did not seem to be with either group, began to chant, “White power.” That was countered by a protester who responded with a chant of  “Rainbow power.”

Soon, the man began to yell profanities and homophobic slurs at a woman. A second woman, coming to her friend’s defense, spit on the man. He kicked that woman. When her friend ran back toward him, she hit him and he tackled her and pushed her to the ground. Police rushed in to break up the fight and urged protesters and pedestrians nearby to step back.

Officers separated the two and held the woman down on the ground and began to put her arms behind her back. After protesters yelled that the man had hurt the woman, police arrested him. The woman was escorted to an ambulance with a possible hip injury, police said.

Armani White, 22, was walking by with his 6 year-old niece to take her to the park and began recording when he saw the altercation.

“I feel angry,” White said, holding his niece’s hand. “His arrest was so casual.”