Philadelphia: Police attack pro-Palestine march

Protest for Gaza, Philadelphia, July 4, 2024.


A peaceful protest in solidarity with Gaza and Palestine on July 4, which was down to around 200 demonstrators by the end at around 8 p.m., was winding down near Philadelphia City Hall when the protesters were brutally and forcefully attacked by squads of police, fully armed in riot gear complete with shields and batons. With no provocation, the police attacked the demonstration moments after the person on the mic had announced plans to disperse and told people to go home. 

Just before the notice to disperse, a few masked protesters who were part of an autonomous group, burned two U.S. flags. The fires were out, and people were leaving when police assaulted the rally security team first, then surrounded protesters and pushed them onto the City Hall Plaza, where more arrests were made. Ten people were arrested, with one requiring hospitalization. As of 8 p.m. on July 5, all had been released with only one person charged.

The sheer speed and number of cops who turned out, including motorcycle cops, bicycle cops and those in full riot gear, along with two buses and numerous police vans and other vehicles, gave the impression that this was a planned assault.   Workers World members witnessed the police approaching the area even before the marchers circled City Hall.

Protest for Gaza, Philadelphia, July 4, 2024.

Attack on protest used to train police cadets?

This was not the first time in recent weeks in Philadelphia that this type of police storm trooper attack took place. 

Beginning her term in 2024, Democratic Mayor Cherelle Parker announced the city would hire 400 new police officers each year of her four-year term. Police graduated 255 cadets in 2024, according to Axios. In June, 78 of these cadets were assigned to police the Kensington area of Philadelphia and had already participated in a brutal attack on houseless people and people suffering addictions there. Witnesses to that attack recently told WW that it reminded them of the Israeli Occupation Forces in Gaza as they witnessed many of the new cops laughing at the results of their arrests.

Parker appears to be looking for opportunities to train these new cops where they can exercise their most brutal tactics. The overkill in this attack on peaceful protesters was obvious to any observers. 

While people have cause to fear fascism under a new Trump administration, that a Democratic Party mayor used the opportunity of this protest for Palestine to launch a police attack on a peaceful Palestine protest is a clear cause for alarm.

The police assault on a peaceful street protest comes on the heels of similar brutal early morning arrests of students and other participants at encampments for Gaza at the University of Pennsylvania on May 10, and at Drexel University on May 23.

Protest for Gaza and Palestine, before police attack. Philadelphia, July 4, 2024.

The pro-Palestine rally was called on the U.S. Independence Day holiday to focus on U.S. imperialism’s support for Israel. The rally gathered at Rittenhouse Square near Walnut and 19th streets starting at 6 p.m., and nearly 1,000 people participated in the march that followed. Militant chants and a lead banner called out the courageous support for the people of Gaza by the resistance movements in Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and throughout occupied Palestine. The Philadelphia Palestine Coalition organized the demonstration.

Throughout the event, people who happened to be in Center City Philadelphia, even for the July 4th celebrations, expressed clear solidarity with the protesters.  There were no signs of opposition or hostility along the route of the march. 

In retrospect, organizers say that this was the first protest they’ve called over multiple years where police denied their right to have a sound truck with loudspeakers. They were forced to carry their speakers on a wagon.

Simple Share Buttons

Share this
Simple Share Buttons