On the third weekend of protests in Philadelphia - in the wake of George Floyd's death May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody - marchers expressed aims to cut funding to the Philly department, and diverting the money to other services.
Carrying a variety of signs, including one that read "Unite Against Racism," organizers of one march gathered at Broad and Callowhill streets, the site of the future police headquarters. They proposed that the police budget be decreased by about 50 percent and more money be provided for services such as libraries, parks and recreation and health and education services.
"Police are expected to cover so many tasks in the city," activist Augustus Fulton-Wiley told NBC10. "By defunding the police, we mean reallocating those funds to organizations that are based in the communities, that can provide more than a knee to the neck."
Mayor Jim Kenney had proposed a $14 million increase to the police budget in the coming fiscal year but said last week he would pull back that request. Fourteen of the city’s 17 council members had signed a letter objecting to the funding increase and calling for the city to “recalibrate” budget priorities.
Police earlier shut down central Philadelphia streets and also closed Interstate 676, which runs through the center, between I-76 and I-95. Those roads were reopened shortly before 7 p.m.
Protesters also gathered earlier in the day in West Philadelphia at the site of the police bombing of the radical group MOVE's row home headquarters 3 1/2 decades ago that caused an inferno that killed 11 people and destroyed more than 60 homes.
Former mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr., who led the city at the time of the 1985 bombing, published an op-ed in the British newspaper the Guardian last month calling for a formal apology from the city, saying after 35 years “it would be helpful for the healing of all involved, especially the victims of this terrible event.”
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Protesters gathered in several spots outside the city, too. In Springfield Township, Montgomery County, protesters knelt in the grass at a park.
And a crowd gathered in Franklinville, New Jersey nearly a week after a peaceful protest was marred by a racist display along the side of the road.
A group including a former Fed-Ex worker and a New Jersey corrections officer re-enacted the killing of Floyd and shouted at the protesters as they marched on Monday.
A huge crowd Saturday sang "We Shall Overcome" and marched holding signs.
Floyd, who was black, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck even as he pleaded for air and stopped moving.