More than two dozen people were arrested Tuesday after they entered the Municipal Services Building while hundreds of protesters marched through Center City, Philadelphia police said.
Images from SkyForce 10 showed the marchers flanked by police on bikes as they passed South Street. Marchers toward the front carried a banner that read "rise up against racism and oppression."
Organizers for the protest said they were marching to demand that the city defund the police and end police brutality.
"If we really believe in a democracy we should be able to demand things from our elected officials so they meet the needs of people like us who are every day Philadelphians, who are working class Philadelphians," Franciso Diez of South Philadelphia told NBC10.
The group gathered on Broad Street and Snyder Avenue around 3 p.m. and then marched along Broad toward City Hall and the Municipal Services Building. Later, they gathered on 15th Street next to Dilworth Park.
NBC10 cameras showed that South Broad Street was blocked before City Hall as the marchers arrived. A large police presence separated traffic on South Broad from the group.
SkyForce 10 also showed a group being loaded into police vans on Arch Street, behind the Municipal Services Building.
Police said a total of 26 people who were inside the building were arrested for failure to disperse. It's unclear whether the group was affiliated with the larger crowd of protesters who marched through the city.
An Inquirer reporter was also briefly detained while covering demonstrations at the building.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw was asked about the reporter's arrest.
“I am aware, and am also aware she was immediately released, and interested to hear more,” Outlaw said. She added that she didn’t have any information from the incident yet.
Mayor Jim Kenney also tweeted he was "extremely disturbed" by the video showing the reporter being detained.
Tuesday's protesters also spoke out against counter protesters who have scuffled with demonstrators at Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia next to the boarded up statue of Christopher Columbus amid demands for the effigy of the explorer to be removed. The protesters accused Philadelphia police of being "allies" with the counter protesters, some of whom were armed.
"They say it's their neighborhood and I respect that but to stand out with rifles and guns and to assault people and police are standing by not doing anything, to me that was hurtful," Jamon Johnson of Philadelphia told NBC10.
Tuesday evening, more tension occurred between the two groups at Marconi Plaza. One man was handcuffed and forced into a police van.
"All we are doing here is we're trying to protect our neighborhoods," Debbie Esola of South Philadelphia said. "We grew up here, raise kids here. We are good people. We don't fight with each other. We're not looking for trouble."
One man who said he was documenting the protest posted video on Instagram showing confrontations with the counter protesters. The man claimed one of the counter protesters punched him in the jaw.
WARNING: The videos below contain strong language
Prior to the protests outside and in the MSB, City Council debated transparency in the police union contract negotiations.
Tuesday afternoon, City Council’s Committee on Public Safety discussed two police reform bills: one that would require public hearings prior to bargaining on police union contracts, and another that would ban certain police arrest techniques including chokeholds.
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“Let’s put money into the people,” the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler told City Council, urging that money now spent on the police department be redirected to education and mental health services. “It’s time to turn on the light and put the process out to the public.”
Police Advisory Commission executive director Hans Menos said police union contract negotiations always have involved salaries and benefits, but exclude another issue.
“References to any reforms are noticeably absent,” Menos said, urging Council to pass legislation that improves public input in the bargaining process.