The Proud Boys, an alt-right group, will potentially hold a rally in West Philadelphia this weekend, drawing concerns from the area's City Councilwoman and triggering planned counter-protests.
A digital flyer circulating online is advertising that the "Philadelphia Proud Boys" will gather at Clark Park at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue at 1 p.m. on Saturday. There is no contact information listed on the flyer.
The group, according to the digital flyer, called on “All Patriots” to gather “in the belly of the beat to demand an end to Antifa Terrorism."
The flyer contained no phone numbers, emails or other contact information. The Philadelphia Proud Boys group did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier, who represents District 3 where the park is located, said in a tweet that her office has received a high volume of calls for a rally in Clark Park on Saturday being promoted by a “known white nationalist hate group,” but did not mention the group.
Gauthier said the group selected the location and time “in order to maximize tensions and create a spectacle.” She condemned the unnamed organization and its "plans to bring this outright hatred to West Philly.”
Guathier called on residents in her district to remain safe and peaceful.
“Responding to this hate group with force only gives them legitimacy and power,” Guathier said.
City spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco said the Kenney administration is aware of the gathering.
The Philadelphia police will provide additional officers from its civil affairs unit and other resources to the area in "preparation for possible protest activity," Cofrancisco said.
The Proud Boys are self-described “Western chauvinists” group and identified as a “general hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Although the group denies any connection to the racist alt-right, they regularly spout white nationalist memes, maintain affiliations with known extremists, and are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric, according to the Souther Poverty Law Center.
Antifa is described as a “broad, community-based movement composed of individuals organizing against racial and economic injustice” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those who identify as Antifa represent a large spectrum of the political left.
Counter-protests are planned to confront the potential Proud Boys rally, says Daryle Lamont Jenkins, founder of the anti-facist organization One People’s Project.
Jenkins said he was helping to organize a counter-rally made up of West Philadelphia residents and self-identified members of antifa, short for anti-fascist, on Saturday.
Jenkins, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, said counter-protesters were looking to peacefully protest and speak out against the “hate-mongering” of the Proud Boys and hate politics.
“I don’t think they’re going to get the fight that they want because no one wants that fight in their neighborhood,” Jenkins said. “Nobody that’s coming to this rally is looking for that.”
Additional unaffiliated groups and organizations were expected to join Saturday’s counter-protests too, Jenkins said.
“It’s gotten bigger than us … which is what we expected,” Jenkins said, adding, “This neighborhood is a cross-section of Philadelphia, to be honest, and they’re all coming out.”
The Food Trust pushed back the hours of its weekly farmers market at Clark Park on Saturday to 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. "in anticipation of a known hate group’s planned rally," according to a social media posting from the nonprofit.
The park has served as the monthly location for the Uhuru Flea Market for more than a dozen years. Uhuru’s fall book fair also was planned for Saturday, but was relocated due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Tiffany Murphy, coordinator for Uhuru Flea Markets, said she heard about the potential rally and believed it was a “scare tactic” aimed at intimidating the Black community.
“They’re putting themselves forth with the hope that we, as the Black community, will not continue to organize, will not continue to speak against oppression, will not continue to speak against inequities,” Murphy said. “But it's just not going to happen.”
Jenkins said members of the Philadelphia Proud Boys were advertising this month’s rally on social media and online messaging boards for the past two weeks but questioned whether that the Proud Boys will actually show up.
Jenkins noted another group calling itself Italian American Patriots has reportedly planned to hold a rally at Clark Park around 11 a.m. before the anticipated Proud Boys gathering. He was not sure if the groups were affiliated.
The Proud Boys have been spotted at rallies in Philadelphia in recent months. A group of self-identified Proud Boys mingled with Philadelphia police officers inside the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5’s headquarters after a visit from Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The police union maintained it had not invited them.