On Thursday morning, thousands of protestors marched from Love Park in Center City to the Loews Philadelphia Hotel to protest 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump's policies on the day of his arrival in Philadelphia for the GOP retreat.
The retreat, which is held at the hotel's 1200 Market Street address, is for congressional Republicans to discuss which policy issues Trump will focus on during his term in office. However, the crowd of protestors prevented Trump’s motorcade from arriving at the hotel on time.
Many of those who marched from Love Park to the Loews Hotel also attended the Philadelphia Women’s March that took place on the Ben Franklin Bridge on Jan. 21.
Similarly to the Women's March, this protest began as a Facebook event which ended up attracting thousands of people. The event was entitled "Resistance in Philly: Fighting for our Lives."
"I think it was pretty effective. I think I definitely felt a lot more fired up than I did at the [Philadelphia] Women's March last weekend. I felt like this protest was more directed," College senior Tess Kerins said. "It was much more intersectional, there was definitely a lot more diversity there. There was a lot more emotion and energy, not that the Women's March didn’t have that, but I felt a larger feeling of energy there."
Trump opened his speech by saying it's "great to be in Philadelphia, I went to school in Philadelphia," reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. Trump went on to claim that the murder rate in Philadelphia has been "terribly increasing." However, The Inquirer reported that several indicators of homicide rates have actually been decreasing.
"Right now one of the few ways we have to show our opposition to what Trump is proposing is through direct action and part of that is marching," said College senior Maxy Levy, who is the former president of Penn Democrats and Class Board 2017 Executive Vice President. Levy took last semester off to work for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "I think it's especially going to Penn, the school that Trump loves to brag about going to, it is important for us to show that we do not support what he is doing."
“Our country is at an existential moment right now. We are at a complete crossroads,” said Rosalind Holtzman, a teacher and former nurse in Philadelphia and a 1981 College and Nursing graduate. Holtzman has been heavily involved in the city's health care system, and noted that Trump’s likely repeal of Obamacare is what frightens her the most.
Many protestors held signs denouncing the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Bob Deleon, who carried a poster that read 'Obamacare saved my father,' said that the affordability of health insurance under Obamacare helped his father get the care he needed when he had a heart attack in 2015.
“The [Democrats] passing Obamacare kept him alive,” Deleon said. “That’s why I will keep on fighting against anyone who wants to take [Obamacare] away.”
The size of the crowd led police to close off the streets near John F. Kennedy Plaza. At around 1:20 p.m., the mass of protestors came to a halt in front of the hotel where Trump and his Republican colleagues were supposed to meet.
A number of Penn students chose to attend the event. College juniors Rebecca Composto and Kevin Galvez came to the event to support the continued efforts to protest the Trump administration.
“It is important to keep up the momentum that we have built over the past week,” Composto said. “We have to keep going to events like these to build morale.”
Galvez noted that his primary motivation for coming to the “Resistance in Philly” protest was to continue to speak on behalf of issues like climate change.
“We need a government that cares about the issues that matter to the majority of people,” Galvez said. “So it is important to keep speaking up about the issues that [we] care about at protests like these.”
Senior reporter Jacob Winick contributed reporting.