Philadelphia protesters clash with police during Baltimore solidarity march

Philadelphia citizens clashed with police officers on Thursday during a rally in solidarity with protests taking place in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.

Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in the late afternoon, many chanting “black lives matter,” the name of a nationwide movement with the goal of drawing attention to incidents of police brutality resulting in the deaths of black Americans. The demonstration was observed by several dozen uniformed police officers.

The crowd grew and the demonstration eventually split into two groups, with one headed toward Rittenhouse Square and the other marching up Broad Street. Local reports indicated that the protesters had remained peaceful throughout the afternoon.

At approximately 7:45pm ET,  a group of people chanting “no justice, no peace” and holding their hands in the air attempted to block the entrance to a highway. Footage captured by news helicopters showed officers mass in an attempt to push the demonstrators back. No arrests were reported by police at that time.

Several times, the clash of protesters and police officers at Broad and Vine Street resulted in heavy pushing and shoving. In one photograph, a protester sitting on the shoulders of another wore a police cap that had been tossed into the air.

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About an hour later, the demonstrators rallied at the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Chestnut Street. Once there, they blocked the doors of the building. Prisoners inside the building could be heard banging on the windows and flashing their lights. A reporter with the Philly Inquirer tweeted a photograph of the protesters waving at inmates who were pressing their faces and hands against the windows on the upper floors of the building.

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A crowd eventually gathered at a statue of Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner and mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980. Several demonstrators flipped off the police standing nearby. According to an observer on Twitter, one of the officers, seen smiling in a photograph, had been “taunting” the protest. Shortly after, someone spray-painted “FTP” on the back of the Rizzo statue, an abbreviation which generally means “fuck the police.”

The Baltimore Police Department concluded their investigation into Gray’s death on Thursday. The report, which was delivered to the state attorney’s office, was not released to the public. Information about Gray’s autopsy was leaked to a local news outlet, however. The medical examiner’s office reportedly determined that Gray was killed because of injuries he sustained while in the back of a police transport vehicle, and not during his arrest.

Medical experts previously stated that the catastrophic injury sustained by Gray would have required a substantial amount of force and injury. It’s unknown at this time whether the officers who arrested Gray, or the officer who drove the van he was reportedly injured in, will face criminal charges in connection to his death.

Photo via Terry Robinson/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.