By Joshua Albert
(Editor’s note: This post has been changed to correct erroneous information. Only one protester was tasered, not two.)
Following several days of rallies in Philadelphia and around the country, local radical activists put out a call for a “FTP” (fuck the police) march on Saturday night, to be staged after a separate vigil for Michael Brown, an 18 year-old killed by a Ferguson, MO police officer. Brown was unarmed, and according to a family-ordered autopsy, had been shot 6 times including twice in the head. Witnesses report that he was shot with his hands held in the air.
At 7:30 PM activists from several community organizing groups in Philadelphia gathered for a vigil and brief discussion in Clark Park. The crowd of around 150 discussed the tense situation in Ferguson, and the organizational efforts currently taking place around the city to help combat police brutality, and the general trend of militarization by police departments. The vigil lasted for about a half hour and was peaceful.
Following the vigil a group of approximately 60 persons not connected with the meeting at Clark Park, including a small group of about seven 9-13 year olds, rallied for a march to an undisclosed location to speak out against police in general. FTP marches are traditionally used by more outspoken “anti police state” activists who feel that vigils and discussions are not enough to bring public awareness to the issue to spark significant change.
The march started at 44th and Baltimore Ave and quickly became antagonistic. The march was initially being led by a small group of younger kids, who took the opportunity to punch a few cars and jump on top of a cab. Soon after, other protesters started to move dumpsters and trash cans onto Baltimore Avenue, a common protest tactic used to obstruct traffic. Cops quickly began to respond and immediately had trash can lids, trash cans, and balloons full of paint thrown at them and their cars, which only intensified the scene, sending it into scattered chaos.
Swarms of police then arrived, scattering protesters into nearby allies and corners, conducting a high stakes game of cat and mouse.
“Arrest that guy in all black,” said one of the police officers, which then led to a two-block chase. (It should be noted that all of the protesters were wearing all black.) When the officer got close enough, the protester was tazed twice and detained. It was unclear what he had specifically done to spark that chase, and as of time of writing his charges are unavailable.
Several blocks away back on Baltimore Ave, another protester was also arrested. Bystanders said it appeared the police were just picking whoever they saw wearing all black. The two protesters were both taken to Mercy Hospital, a standard police operating procedure following an officer involved tazing. The two were then taken to the 18th district police HQ where they are currently awaiting further legal proceedings.