Philadelphia, along with more than 600 cities across the United States and world, hosted a Families Belong Together protest Saturday to rally against the Trump administration's immigration policies. Thousands showed up, according to Inquirer/Daily News reporter Jeff Gammage.
The initial purpose of the protest was to compel President Trump to end the separation of immigrant families at the U.S. border. After Trump signed an executive order on June 20 abolishing the practice, the demonstration evolved to demand that the U.S. government reunite separated families and work toward immigration reform. Speakers highlighted the need for Philadelphia to expand its sanctuary policies, end deportations and shut down nearby detention centers.
"While Donald Trump is in Mar-a-lago, we'll be on the streets of Philly," said Lee Fishman, an ACLU volunteer. Fishman helped direct people to Logan Circle from City Hall, where the rally was initially planned before it got too big.
Hot temperatures didn't deter Sam Goldman from showing up to protest. "We think it's hot here? It's hotter on the border in Texas. People risk their lives to be here," she said as she made signs at LOVE Park with her crew.
Signs against Trump and deportation were raised high in the expanding crowd, and chants of "abolish ICE" and "shut down Berks" rang all across Logan Circle. Berks Detention Center, about 70 miles outside the city, has been a focal point of protests and worry from immigration advocates, who are concerned the center might be used as a model for the Trump administration's promised expansion of detention centers.
Not all speakers at the rally were adults. A 13-year-old girl stepped up to the mic to speak about her detention center experience when she came to the U.S. with her family. "It's hard because you can't go outside to breathe, to see other people," she cried. According to the teenager, her family is taking sanctuary in a church in the city because a judge allegedly denied them asylum.
As the protest wound down, it morphed into a spontaneous march. Police officers on bikes converged on the scene, forming a line to move the march onto the streets as protesters chanted "No cops, no KKK, no facist USA."
Protesters eventually broke through the line and made their way toward City Hall. As the march progressed, police were unprepared to close nearby roads, causing the wave of protesters to navigate through honking cars and congested traffic.
The march ended outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Philadelphia field office near Eighth and Arch Streets, where protesters chanted "shame," in front of a silent line of police. Some protesters took the moment to speak about how deportation affected them and their families as the crowd eventually dwindled down.