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Ahead of the “We the People” rally Saturday, organized by far-right groups, counterprotesters had already gathered in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. In the crowd, one face popped up again and again: Gritty.
The grinning, orange-haired, crazy-eyed monster was unveiled as a mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers in September and quickly became an internet sensation. The character was adopted as an unofficial symbol of antifa and even prompted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (that tried to reclaim him from antifa groups).
Per photos posted to social media, Gritty showed up at the “We the People” counterprotest in the form of signs and homemade outerwear featuring the mascot.
Gritty has made an appearance at the Proud Boys protest pic.twitter.com/sFMxRVLPdU— Will Sommer (@willsommer) November 17, 2018
Here’s the scene in Philly. Roughly a dozen people at the far-right rally, with counter protesters on either side. pic.twitter.com/pzvXPth9KV— Will Sommer (@willsommer) November 17, 2018
Cops aren’t letting media anywhere near the far right rally, so here’s another Gritty from the counterprotest. They love him! pic.twitter.com/9UMhfMPrJ3— Will Sommer (@willsommer) November 17, 2018
some amazing handmade gritty swag at the counter-rally today. "All I know how to do is crochet and protest Nazis." pic.twitter.com/t9wWjhb2WX— Parker Higgins (@xor) November 17, 2018
Gritty versus the nazis, Part II pic.twitter.com/Tn2TUvKX1C— Gwen Snyder is uncivil (@gwensnyderPHL) November 17, 2018
Some had already used the Gritty spirit to denounce the rally in the days building up to it.
Philly! Call Andrew McDougall of the Independence National Historical Park who approves Special Use Permits: (215) 597-9205 and demand he pull the permit for We The People rally Saturday at Independence Hall. Call out #Fascism. #HateOutOfPhilly #PushbackCampaign pic.twitter.com/R7Td1KW911— Fellow Worker Gritty (@FellowGritty) November 14, 2018
A bunch of nazi scum and racist clowns are apparently coming to Philly on Saturday to hold a hate rally in front of the Museum for Jewish American History... GRITTY DOES NOT ABIDE #Gritty #philly #grittydoesnotabide #Grittynolikenazis pic.twitter.com/iOYHngEJpJ— Ziggy Bombadil (@ZiggyBombadil) November 15, 2018
Gritty better show up to the rally tomorrow with that problematic hockey fight spirit or he’s cancelled— Dasani Merchant (@dasanimerchant) November 17, 2018
While Gritty’s presence at the protest wasn’t an official showing with the Philadelphia Flyers, the mascot has the support of the Philadelphia City Council as, not only antifa, but a “non-binary leftist icon.” So far, he’s living up to the name.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque