The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Hai's Sushi Opening Credit: Helen Fetaw , Nimay Kulkarni

Roughly 7,000 people, including students from Penn, marched through Philadelphia yesterday as a part of #ReclaimMLK Day.

The march, which went from Philadelphia School District headquarters to Independence Mall, aimed to reclaim the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. as an activist in order to highlight core issues related to race in America. This year’s protests were especially politically charged due to national conversations around race relations and the police following the Eric Garner and Michael Brown decisions.

“This was perfect timing after everything that has happened,” Reverend Mark Tyler, an organizer for the event said.

The day was planned by a coalition of over 70 organizations including Power Philadelphians, Black Lives Matter and Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation, an organization at Penn dedicated to bringing awareness to issues related to race.

The protesters demanded an end to stop-and-frisk, a fully funded Police Review Board, $15 minimum wage and a fully funded, democratically controlled local school system.

“What sets this protest apart is that we have a real focus,” Tyler said, explaining that a major critique of the movement early on was that it lacked specific goals.

“All we knew is that we were angry,” he said. “Now we’ve turned a corner. We are saying specifically this is what justice looks like.”

College sophomore Taylor Hosking attended the protest along with several other Penn students. Despite the size and notability of the protest, she was concerned “about the ability to have a leading voice that I know and trust for Philly’s movement,” she said. She worried that the protest may be harmed by its focus on demonizing police. Near Penn’s campus, some protesters shouted, “The cops and the Klan go hand-in-hand.”

“I would also like to see more building towards common ground with the police department,” Hosking said. “If we focused less on the content of the police officer’s character and more on changing parts of the law enforcement system that are problematic, we might make crucial police officer allies.”

Organizers of the event, including SOUL co-chair Brianna Moore, believed that it was a major success.

“I think we accomplished what we wanted today,” Tyler said. “However, today is a beginning, not an end.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.