The chant emanating from the 20 or so marchers as they reached Broad Street, as the sun went down, on Friday night was unmistakable.
“No Justice, no peace, until they free my man, Maurice!”
“Maurice” is Maurice Hill, arrested just after midnight on Thursday morning following a nearly eight-hour standoff with police. When it was over, six officers had been shot, none of them fatally — in the incident in the Tioga-Nicetown section of the city.
However, everyone who watched the situation unfold in the 3700 block of 15th Street does not believe that Hill, 36, who was taken into custody with an AR-15 assault rifle that he is alleged to have fired hundreds of rounds at cops and a handgun, is guilty.
“Maurice represents a legitimate act of resistance,” said Diop Olugbala. “The police are an occupying force military force in the Black community and should be met with resistance. That’s what happened on Wednesday.”
Olugbala, a member of the Black is Back Coalition, led about 20 protestors – including a man who identified himself as Hill’s cousin – on a five-block march that began at the corner of Germantown and Lehigh avenues and concluded at Broad Street and Lehigh.
Dozens of police officers rode bikes and walked alongside the marchers. Others sat in patrol cars watching.
Some marchers held signs. Olugbala led the chants over a bullhorn. When they arrived at Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue, they set up outside of a My Phillie Wireless store where Willie Wise, 34, was shot and killed by a security guard last March after surveillance video showed Wise wielding a butcher knife behind the store’s counter.
“We demand that the District Attorney take a closer look at this killing of Willie Wise,” Olugbala said. “That is one of our demands.”
One of the marchers was David White, a 41-year- old cousin of Hill’s. Carrying a sign that said “Free Gruff” – Hill’s nickname – he spoke with Hill earlier on Wednesday. He said that he is suspicious over what has been reported regarding a search warrant.
There are reports that police entered a different house other than the house that they were cleared to search. Hill was in a property adjacent to the house they had been cleared to search where officers reportedly saw drugs being transported.
When they began to search the other house, that is when the shooting began.
“I believe they were in the wrong place,” White said. “I feel like he was dealt a bad hand. I want him to be given a fair shot, a fair shake. When you are in a house and the police come for you, you panic. Before anyone jumps to conclusion we need to all be told what happened.”
The crowd dispersed shortly after 7 p.m., a little more than an hour after it began.