Peaceful protests where the United States of America began
Above, end of the march on Market Street. For large picture of old lady with walker, click here.
The last marcher on Martin Luther King jr Day. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2015 v9n1 p0120
I set out from New Jersey with the goal of marching with the others from North Broad Street to City Hall, and then left 8 blocks down Market Street.
I walked through the underground mall that includes what was called Reading Terminal, and then was called Market East and now is called Jefferson Station.
A block from Philadelphia Justice Center, where the innocent and the guilty are sent away to jail if the community does not protest, screaming down 12th Street, were about 40 macho armed-to-the teeth blue-jacketed cops on even more macho motorbikes. Followed by about 30 flashing and screaming police cars. They drove up Filbert Street and vanished.
Vanished? I knew they were there somewhere, so I turned around and walked to Independence Hall, a really cool building from the 18th century where small business owners decided that Britain's way of doing business was not going to work anymore. And they signed the Declaration of Independence. They came back some years later to spend a hot summer putting together the Constitution. So this area of Philadelphia, this small square mile, was the beginning of a country founded on free speech and an anathema to fundamental religionists who think God told them to blow us up, or lock us up.
What an incredible place to hold a peace rally. Two huge green lawns, that are only there so crowds can gather and protest. In Philadelphia, we have the Constitution and the places to protest. How fortunate we are.
I walked over to the statue of George, who is a lovely brown color, and looked at his stare over two lawns and Chestnut and Market Streets, all the away across to the Constitution Center. Which currently houses the original signed Bill of Rights. How cool is that.
And then I started filming, the helicopters buzzing at the top of us, the police cars sitting expectantly, the march coming down Market Street. I could not see the marchers at first, because in front of them were 100 armed-to-the-teeth not-so-macho bicycle-riding cops wearing yellow jackets and white helmets.
The marchers were protesting about different things: I saw a lot of demands for $15 minimum wage and decent schools. Black Lives Matter. Hands up, don't shoot. I can't breathe. Justice for citizens murdered by cops. White silence is murder. Free the Dallas 6. Justice for Brandon Tate-Brown. Imagine justice. Unity.
The yellow cops were everywhere in the march. I was not sure if they were protecting the marchers or gently threatening them.
The final large banner was to free Mumia, a Philadelphia journalist who has been in jail over 30 years for the shooting death of a cop, who was likely not killed by him. I don't know.
Next to them was an old woman pushing a walker, with a sign attached "End Stop and Frisk". In the last block the "Free Mumia Now" folks moved ahead of the old woman with the walker, and she kept going. She had not walked all that way to give up.
Other cars were being let onto Market Street, but she kept walking. I realized that the other cars were all police and fire department cars, and that they were protecting her until she disappeared into the crowd. Protecting free speech. Wonderful.