Low turnout for Blue Lives Matter march, while arrests made at counter protest

More officers than demonstrators showed up for the Blue Lives Matter rally that took place at the Liberty Bell.

The event was organized by Sports Beer and Politics, a group that describes themselves via their Facebook pages as a “community of Patriotic American Citizens and US Military Veterans” whose “goals are to expose the corruption of our government and the mainstream media, as well as laugh at snowflakes while talking sports over some beers.”

About 20 people were escorted by police from 5th and Market streets to Logan Square as they showed their support for law enforcement.

Despite the less than favorable media coverage police departments endure, said demonstrators, cops aren’t the enemy.

“I’d just like people to be aware that our police officers are here to help us,” said Fran Woodruff, a Republican ward leader in the city.

“They’re not out to get us, they’re not out to make our lives more difficult. They’re here to help us when we need help.”

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Billy Ciancagliani and U.S. House candidate Bryan Leib were among the demonstrators echoing Woodruff’s sentiments.

The march was initially routed west down Market Street, but just blocks away from the small march, some 50 counter-protestors gathered near City Hall in opposition to the group, claiming they were supporting white supremacy and Nazism.

As Blue Lives marchers were peacefully led to their destination, police blocked counter-protestors’ efforts to clash with them in the middle of Broad and Arch Streets.

“The police aren’t here to protect you,” said Alex Hall, a member of Industrial Workers of the World. “They’re here to uphold the existing status quo.”

According to police, some protesters began fighting with officers resulting in 16 arrests. Nine of the arrested received citations for failure to disperse. The remaining seven were charged with disorderly conduct, a third-degree misdemeanor.

Some protesters claim the arrests were unjustified, accusing the officers of provoking an incident and using excessive force.

Via an updated statement, police said, “the entire matter is under internal review.”

After the brief chaos at the intersection, some of the remaining counter-protesters walked toward Logan Square, where Blue Lives Matter marchers were scheduled to convene.

However, both demonstrations fizzled out shortly after without incident.

Greg Duva, came down from New York to be a part of this counter-protest. “I’m definitely opposed to police brutality and the right wing fascism doesn’t sit well with me. It’s important to show strong hands against this stuff”. (Taylor Allen/WHYY)

Taylor Allen contributed to this report.

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