Demonstrations continued in Philadelphia on Friday in the wake of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers in New York City and Missouri, respectively. Both Black men were unarmed and killed during police stops.
About 75 people, organized by a group that calls itself “Shut It Down” lead a demonstration on Friday afternoon from Cecil B. Moore in North Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where they held a “die-in.”
The group created a traffic jam at Broad and Race Streets that stretched for blocks. The protestors yelled, “Black lives matter,” and, “No justice, no peace,” during their demonstration.
Temple University student Mathos Sokolo said he was concerned about the impact of police brutality on African Americans.
“I grew up in this community and police brutality is something that has been going on for God knows how long,” said Sokolo, 22. “It just hasn’t been shed light on in the city of Philadelphia, as it has in Ferguson and in New York. I felt like it was necessary because if I’m going to raise my child, I feel like I need to raise my child in a society that is safe and a system that is put in place to protect everyone, not just people of a specific ethnic background.”
Isaiah Gaymor, a media studies and production major at Temple, said it’s important awareness of these issues be kept in the forefront.
“The main objective right now is that we raise awareness about these issues,” said Gaymor, who is the events coordinator for the NAACP at Temple University.
Last Tuesday, he held a vigil at Temple to honor those who died because of police brutality. He’s gearing up to speak to a group of students Dec. 18 at a local high school. Gaymor said it’s important young people be educated about what is going on so they can understand why people are protesting.
“I don’t mind the die-ins,” Gaymor said. “I think it’s a very good thing to unify people, but we have to educate everybody so that you know exactly why you are doing what you are doing.”