By: David Bedford
On March 25th, Trump supporters across the US organized rallies in support of our new president. Here in Philadelphia, it was met with extreme opposition.
The “Make American Great Again” rally ultimately pulled in a much smaller crowd than the 300+ confirmed attendees on the Facebook event. Roughly 100 Trump supporters gathered at Independence Hall, and almost as many counter-protestors on the sidewalk outside the barricade.
The MAGA event organizers intended to host a series of speakers, and then march to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and conclude at the Rocky statue.
At the opening speaker session, they featured politicians, conservative community activists, and regular crowdgoers. Their main talking points were in support of repealing the Affordable Care Act (the recently failed Republican alternative plan would have kicked 24 million off insurance and given billions in tax breaks to the wealthy) and supporting the racist border wall.
Shortly into the speaker session, a massive contingent of antifa protesters arrived. By this point, less than a half hour into the event, the counter-protesters greatly outnumbered the Trump supporters, by a ratio of almost 2:1.
Barred from entering the event by Police, protesters instead marched around the block, obstructing traffic on Market st., Chestnut st., 6th st., and 5th st. Bystanders engaged with protesters and joined in to denounce the Trump supporters for their anti-immigrant remarks.
Because the amount of counter-protesters outnumbered the Trump supporters, the police initially called off the march. It was not until 2pm, far after their intended departure time that the counter-protesters dispersed and the police allowed them to march.
By the time the MAGA rally actually began to march, the crowd had dwindled to only about 50 Trump supporters. As they chanted phrases such as “Build the Wall,” protesters on the sidewalks chanted phrases like “No Racists, No KKK, No fascist USA!”
As the march progressed west towards Broad St, the crowds grew on the sidewalks. Bystanders started joining the crowds of counter-protesters to denounce the views of the Trump supporters in the street.
By the time they made it to City Hall, the police ordered the Trump crowd to return to Independence Hall. Outnumbered and shouted down, they retreated.
A large group of Antifa and other organized protesters filled the crowd at City Hall, but more movingly, the streets filled with ordinary people. Children, old folks, working people, and other bystanders gathered to join the protest and prevent the Trump crowd from making their way to the Museum.
At one point, when the police tried to cage in the crowd of protesters west of City Hall, a group of a few hundred kids on bikes cut through to surround the crowd. They also took part in the chants and rallied against the Trump supporters.
Ultimately, the counter-protest was wildly successful. The counter-protestors greatly outnumbered the Trump crowd, and twice stopped the march from happening. Only one arrest was made. Philly came out strong to defend the rights and dignity of immigrants, LGBTQ people, and the working poor against the supporters of the new administration.