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Protests Galore In The Streets Of Philly: Here's What They're All About

Jul 27, 2016
Originally published on July 27, 2016 5:47 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish in Philadelphia, where protests outside the Democratic National Convention have drawn thousands of demonstrators, and they're rallying around a wide range of causes. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang gives us a taste.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Here in Philadelphia, the streets are alive with the sound of chanting.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: (Chanting) Hell no, DNC, we won't vote for Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No justice.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: No peace.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No racists.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: No peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When I say what the, y'all say frack. What the...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: Frack.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What the...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #1: Frack.

WANG: And if you can't hear above the shouting, just look up at all the picket signs.

So your sign says...

ELLE NOORDZY: No TPP.

WANG: Elle Noordzy of Exetor, R.I.. took time off from work to protest the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between the U.S., Japan and other Pacific Rim nations.

NOORDZY: There's so many issues that you could pick from, but this is one of the big ones. I mean if this goes through, you know - I mean say goodbye to individual liberties. They're making corporations a priority over actual human beings.

WANG: Phillip Garrott from Nashville has multiple causes on his mind.

PHILLIP GARROTT: I have a sign that says abolish student debt.

WANG: And he's wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to represent Anonymous, a network of activist hackers. But those aren't the issues that really drove him to the streets.

GARROTT: My main reason for protesting is actually our military interventions and our drug war that leads to the mass incarceration that we now face.

WANG: Many of the demonstrations have taken place in designated protest zones in parks and outside city hall, but some activists with Black Lives Matter started their march against police brutality in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, North Philadelphia.

ASA KHALIF: This is where the brutality begins - right here in this community.

WANG: This is march organizer Asa Khalif.

KHALIF: We need to educate our people in this quote, unquote, "hood" to let them know then we haven't abandoned them, that they need to get mobilized and organize.

ERICA MINES: I need all white people to move to the back. This is a black and brown resistance march.

WANG: Erica Mines was one of the organizers with the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice. She handed out signs with names of police shooting victims for other marchers to carry after she called out the victims' names one by one.

MINES: Philando Castile...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: We honor you.

MINES: Who will carry his name? Alton Sterling...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD #2: We honor you.

MINES: Who will carry his name?

WANG: For Larry Witlen of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., who's in town to push for universal background checks for gun sales, all of these demonstrations add up to a mix of diverse activism that you can only find at a Democratic National Convention.

LARRY WITLEN: Even in spite of the fact that we might be a little bit more ragged, I think it's better.

WANG: Ragged...

WITLEN: Ragged in a good way, you know? This one wears a shirt. That one doesn't wear a shirt. This one has dyed red hair and tattoos, and this one doesn't have it.

WANG: To Witlen, this is what America looks like. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.