Protesters staged a "die-in" outside the South Philadelphia Sports Complex following the Eagles game Sunday night in a show of solidarity for Mike Brown and Eric Garner.
Clergy leaders with Philadelphia Organized to Witness Empower & Rebuild (POWER) called for a “Solidarity Die-In” which took place at the northeast corner of Broad and Pattison Streets. Around 200 protesters gathered outside the complex for the demonstration around 7 p.m.
Around 7:45 p.m. they laid down in the middle of the intersection for about four minutes and thirty seconds.
"It's symbolic of the four hours and thirty minutes that Mike Brown laid dead in the streets of Ferguson," a POWER spokeswoman said.
The demonstration was one of many sparked by the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown.
Brown, 18, was killed after being shot several times by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Wilson said Brown, who was unarmed, assaulted him and charged at him which prompted him to open fire in self defense. Brown's family and some witnesses disputed Wilson's report however. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the case prompting violent riots in Ferguson as well as protests nationwide.
Garner, 43, died July 17 in Staten Island, New York after police officers attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on video wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck as the heavyset asthmatic repeatedly yelled, “I can’t breathe!” Garner was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later.
On Dec. 3 a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo, a decision which also sparked nationwide protests.
"While the protests are in response to these two incidents, the demonstrators say they are fed up with a justice system that has no regard for African Americans," the POWER spokeswoman said. "Black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than their white counterparts according to national statistics. Protesters say the overarching problem is structural, systemic, institutionalized racism."
Whether they were frustrated by the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks, the fact that the demonstration blocked traffic or a combination of both, some Eagles fans were not happy with the protest.
"I think it stinks," said one fan. "People have to leave."
Some of the fans chanted "a**holes" and "get a job" as the die-in took place. Aside from that however, there were no reported confrontations or violent incidents.
"Yeah they were shouting rude things," said Raheem Manning, one of the protesters. "It just shows that this matters. We're getting awareness out."
After the die-in, the demonstrators stood up and continued protesting, chanting "Black lives matter," "Hands up, don't shoot," and "I can't breathe" before finally leaving the area.
"This is the first one I've been to and I thought it was an important one, during a big event where a lot of people who may be ignorant to our cause are here," Manning said. "I think the issue is you grow up as a young black male. I'm college educated but I still have the fear a cop may bother me for no reason."
As the demonstrators chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot," one Eagles fan, Ryan Shane, decided to chant back.
"Hands up don't be a criminal!" Shane shouted. "Hands up don't attack police officers! Hands up be a good citizen!"
Shane later spoke to NBC10's Randy Gyllenhaal.
"I think it’s an absolute tragedy that that young man was killed," Shane said. "I feel terrible for the police officer. And I feel terrible for the family and I feel terrible for that young man losing his life. It's an absolute tragedy. But you know what? Hands up, be a good citizen. If a police officer tells you to do something, do it."
Philadelphia Police closed the intersection at Broad and Pattison for about 20 minutes for the die-in demonstration. They also thanked the demonstration organizers for giving them advanced notice. The intersection was later reopened to traffic.
"First and foremost we gotta protect life," said Philadelphia Police First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. "So we're out here to do that and make sure people get home safely. The fans and the demonstrators."
No arrests were made during the demonstration, according to police.