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Police Brutality CC

Photo by Jamelle Bouie // CC BY 2.0

Protesters and police officers clashed near City Hall over the weekend after violence erupted at a demonstration against police brutality.

The protest on Oct. 21 began in front of the Convention Center and went through Center City, but quickly ended with injuries on both sides, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Two police officers and one protester suffered minor injuries. The demonstration occurred as thousands of law enforcement officials across the nation met in Philadelphia for a conference for the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

The rally was originally organized by Philly for REAL Justice, a grassroots organization dedicated to bringing citizens together, according to its website, to combat “the system of white supremacy and police terror across all areas of racial, economic and legal oppression." 

At noon, the streets filled with a few dozen protesters carrying banners and sporting shirts that said, “Stop killing black people." Approximately two hours into the peaceful demonstration, a physical altercation broke out between around 50 protesters and police officers in front of a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo. A former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and two-term mayor, Rizzo was known as a gruff defender of police and had notoriously tense relationships with members of the black and LGBTQ communities. 

The clashes ended in two arrests, four citations and multiple officer injuries.

Protesters returned to the streets of Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, but the demonstration stayed peaceful. Speakers argued to abolish the police system, calling it “racist.”

One woman at the demonstration took to a microphone and said, “If you are really sorry about your history of policing, why don’t you disband yourselves?”

In recent years, protesters have taken to the streets of campus and the wider city to advocate for justice in the wake of highly publicized shootings of unarmed black men and women by police. At Penn, President Amy Gutmann participated in a die-in during a protest at her campus residence over police brutality and the University's refusal to make voluntary payments to the city school district. That act drew criticism from members of the Penn Police Department. 

In October 2016, Gutmann and former Provost Vincent Price authored a letter to black students, proclaiming, "Black lives matter."

"Our nation has confronted far too many profoundly troubling incidents, including deaths in communities across the country, that highlight the continuing and pervasive challenges faced daily by Blacks in America,” the administrators wrote. “In the face of this struggle, we believe it is critically important to remind Penn’s entire Black student community that they are a treasured and respected part of our University.”