‘I felt that on the Fourth of July, it was important to speak up…’
(Carly Wanna, The Philadelphia Inquirer) At least 33 protesters were “detained and cited” after a crowd of nearly 300 people sought to disrupt Philadelphia‘s Salute to America parade in Center City on Fourth of July.
The group of protesters included Philadelphia Jewish community members, immigrant leaders and allies, who gathered outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility located near the corner of 8th and Cherry streets to highlight the conditions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
They were marching to 6th and Market street, which is part of the parade route.
Chanting “Never again means close the camps” and “Never again is now,” a group of 33 protesters formed a human chain across Market Street, barring the Mill Creek Fire Company from continuing the procession. The protesters sat down in the street, and around noon, soon after the blockade, police removed the protesters—wrists pressed against their backs—from the street.
“We believe this action was necessary because on a day like today, on the Fourth of July—the celebration of freedom and justice in our country—we found it ironic and believe it is abundantly clear that in America right now there are people who are not free, who are not receiving justice, who are not receiving independence,” said Pele Irgangladen, a protest organizer.
The blockade was a planned event, according to Irgangladen. The 33 protesters indicated they would be interested in partaking in a “high risk action” through a form distributed before the protest. They then underwent nonviolence civil disobedience training on Wednesday to prepare and plan for the July Fourth protest.
The arrested protesters split off from the couple hundred, who were stopped by bicycle cops near Independence Hall as they neared Market Street.
The activity began at around 10 a.m. outside of the ICE facility. After speakers and chants—including “Never again para nadie. Never again for anyone.”—the group walked down Arch Street to station near the Constitution Center and Independence Hall.
Sarah Giskin, one of the organizers, called for the closing of what she called “concentration camps,”—referring to the detention centers where undocumented immigrants, including those seeking refugee status are being held—and the abolition of ICE. Participants also chanted “Shut down Berks,” referencing the immigrant detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Rebekah O’Donoghue, 35, said she was there to protest “the immorality” at play in immigration detention centers. “I felt that on the Fourth of July, it was important to speak up.”
Rabbi Micah Weiss, 31, for the Reconstruction Movement located in Philly and Nomi Teutsch, 31, attended the protest with their two newborn sons. “We brought our babies here to show the importance of families standing together.”
Teutsch, who said she was a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, drew a “direct comparison” between the concentration camps of 20th century Europe and detention facilities for undocumented immigrants in the United States.
The protest aligns with similar actions, both past and pending, led by Jewish community members in major cities across the country.
“We were taught as Jews how the Holocaust happened, why it happened,” said Irgangladen. “This happened to us and we must make sure it does not happen again to anyone. We see all the signs with the concentration camps, and we are not willing to see what happens next.”
(c)2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.