Hundreds of protestors have taken to the streets of Philadelphia in days past to demand justice for George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. The crowd has occupied Fairmount Park and the Ben Franklin Parkway, prompting road closures. Additionally, the protests have instigated tear gassing by the police.
This uproar was motivated by George Floyd’s killing, but the movement targets the greater problem of police brutality and institutionalized racism as a whole. History shows that Philadelphia has been the epicenter of major protests since the city was created. Here’s a look at the history of protests in Philadelphia:
August 1964: Riots on Columbia Avenue
This protest began after two police officers arrested a woman in North Philadelphia for not being able to move her broken-down car. Rumors quickly spread throughout Philadelphia, stating that the officers had beat a pregnant black woman. News of this event led to protests and riots across Philadelphia to fight police brutality and racism. Several businesses were looted, and some were permanently shut down as a result.
July 4, 1965-69: The “Annual Reminders” LGBTQ Protests
Prior to the Stonewall riots in New York City, Philadelphia was the hub of LGBTQ protests. A group of 40 protestors marched outside Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. July 4, 1965 marked the first multi-city gay rights protest in the United States.
October 25, 1997: The Million Woman March
Nearly one million people gathered to promote unity in black communities, specifically among black women. Protestors gathered at the Ben Franklin Parkway, and the march included many speeches, prayers and performances. The event was not instigated by a specific event.
November 30, 2011: Occupy Philadelphia
The Occupy protest was part of a worldwide movement that demanded economic equality. There were around 300 protestors at City Hall, until the police booted them out in order to start renovations. Nearly 50 people were arrested, some who later sued the city for violating their right to assemble.
December 2014-16: Black Lives Matter
The movement began after Trayvon Martin was shot in 2012. Since then, several protests took place to fight for an end to police brutality.
March 24, 2018: March for Our Lives
Nearly 10,000 marchers took to the streets of Philadelphia after the historical shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. The march began on Market and 5th Streets and ended at Penn’s Landing. The purpose of the march was to honor the 17 victims and call for stricter gun control legislation. There were several politicians and students who gave speeches as well.
July 2018: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Protests
Protestors marched from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to City Hall, calling for the abolishment of the ICE agency. The protestors brought their concerns directly to Mayor Jim Kenney, hoping to dissaude him from re-signing the yearly contract with ICE.
April 2020: “Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine”
Protestors across Pennsylvania demanded that Governor Tom Wolf end the statewide shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. These residents belonged to a group called “Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine,” a Facebook group that called the protest “Operation Gridlock Pennsylvania.”