Three police officers were taken to the hospital after they were sprayed with mace at a large protest on Broad Street that turned violent for a time Friday evening. Four men were taken into custody following the incident.
Organizers for the demonstration said they were protesting "police terror in the era of Trump's law and order policies." On their Facebook page, the organizers also criticized Mayor Kenney for not ending Stop and Frisk, referenced a police officer with a tattoo that some believe was similar to a prominent Nazi German symbol, and referenced the recent scandal involving Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
"It's time to keep the pressure on the PPD, the DA, the FOP, and the entire system of policing that's increasing with the displacement of our people and communities through gentrification and the prison industrial complex," the organizers wrote.
Police say a crowd of protesters ran to 1600 N. Broad Street around 6:50 p.m. Friday night in front of the Bank of America where Philadelphia Bike Teams were blocking the entrance. The protesters allegedly sprayed 12 officers with black spray paint and pepper spray. They also vandalized the bank, investigators said.
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Three of the officers who were sprayed suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital where they are expected to be released, officials said. Police also arrested four protesters. They have not yet revealed the specific charges against them.
One organizer denied that protesters lashed out first. She told NBC10 that police were the aggressors.
“We were attempting to continue our protest, continuing to assert our rights to protest and police did not want us to go certain places and they decided they were going to stop us by being violent,” Megan Malachi of the Black Resistance March said.
"Once you elect to spray police officers with a caustic substance, you are no longer involved in protest activity, you are involved in criminal activity,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said.
The mace incident wasn’t the only conflict. SkyForce10 caught police and protesters scuffling as officers tried to get around demonstrators on bicycles at Broad and Cecil B Moore Avenue.
Witness video also showed police and protesters clashing. The reason for that fight wasn’t clear.
“There is no such thing as a peaceful protest when police are present," Malachi said.
Demonstrators started the march from City Hall walking north on Broad Street. A group in the front held letters that spelled out “Ungovernable.”
The crowd of about 100 stopped periodically along Broad Street for leaders to make speeches. One such stop happened at Broad and Girard Avenue. SkyForce10 hovered overhead as participants started a fire at the intersection. The group later threw an American flag onto the blaze.
Police were still looking at evidence to decide what, if any, charges would be filed against those taken into custody.
Protests wrapped up near Temple University on Broad Street by 9 p.m.