‘Say her name’: Protesters seek justice for Black, trans women amid ongoing unrest

The marches mark nearly four weeks of civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

West Philly Say Her Name march

Black women marched in West Philadelphia demanding police be removed from schools, the banning of tear-gassing of and violence against protesters, and the legalization of sex work. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

The Philadelphia area on Saturday continued to see a steady stream of protests rooted in the fight against racial injustice and police violence. The marches mark nearly four weeks of civil unrest across the country following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A march in West Philadelphia honored Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in Louisville on March 13, and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black trans woman who was found dismembered along the Schuylkill River in early June.

Taylor was fatally shot by officers who burst into her home overnight using a no-knock warrant. She was shot eight times by officers conducting a narcotics investigation. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Friday that one of three police officers involved in Taylor’s shooting death will be fired.

Philadelphia police are searching for the man who they say is wanted in Fells’ murder. Akhenaton “Akh” Jones, 36, of the 3900 block of Powelton Avenue, faces charges for murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of corpse and related offenses.

A diverse crowd — toting signs that advocated for LGBTQ protections, Black Lives Matter, and defunding the police — stretched down Market Street as residents cheered marchers from their porches.

One such resident, Nadine Neal, said she has never seen anything like this before.

“I got all my brothers and sisters out here — all colors, all races,” Neal said. “This is a beautiful thing.”

Demonstrators stopped on 52nd Street, listening as the names of Black women who have been killed were recited aloud. The mood was somber as the crowd called out refrains of “say her name.”

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After the names were read, YahNé Ndgo of the advocacy group Deep Blu Womyn Company, addressed the gathering, emphasizing the need for protesters to prioritize those who are the most marginalized, including trans people.

“There is no freedom for any of us if we don’t have freedom for all of us,” Ndgo said. “Every single one of us.”

Ndgo went on to say that if people can’t see the additional struggle that the trans community goes through, then they “need to step away from this movement and do some homework.”

Saturday evening, after a stormy late afternoon, a Refuse Fascism Philly rally called for the immediate removal of the Trump administration during a protest at Dilworth Park.

“Day after day, night after night, coast to coast, the streets fill with people of all backgrounds who cannot tolerate another day of white supremacy and a culture of soul-crushing cruelty,” Refuse Fascism organizers said in a statement.

President Donald Trump was back on the campaign trail Saturday for a rally in Tulsa, his first since the U.S. outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The event was planned for inside a 19,000-seat indoor arena — a decision that flouted the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Erica and Darryl Williams
Erica and Darryl Williams joined a protest against white supremacy in Germantown Saturday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Earlier Saturday, demonstrators gathered in Germantown in front of Town Square. Protest signs asked for people to honk for Black lives. Many passing drivers obliged.

Darryl Williams joined the protest with his ex-wife. The two are parents to mixed children. Williams, who is Black, says the current political moment reminds him of when he protested during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“That’s all we did, protest all the time,” Williams said. “Every chance we got to make a change … When Rev. King marched, we marched. When the Vietnam War came, we marched.”

Lawrence Geller
Lawrence Geller, a military veteran, is part of a group that advocates for peace and racial justice. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Lawrence Geller, a white man wearing a “veterans for peace” hat, came out with his wife from their Northeast Philadelphia retirement community because he says racial injustice in the U.S. is “intolerable.”

The military veteran told WHYY that the image of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd epitomized, for him, the role of the police in the U.S. He expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Protester accused of arson held without bail

A woman accused of torching two Philadelphia police vehicles on the first Saturday of protests in Philadelphia has been ordered to be held without bail by a federal judge.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain announced charges Wednesday against 33-year-old Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal. The Germantown resident was charged with criminal arson and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Authorities said in a criminal complaint that the Blumenthal was identified through news footage and social media posts, as well as by her online activity, a distinctive tattoo and a T-shirt that read, ”Keep the immigrants. Deport the racists.”

McSwain, in a separate tweet, suggested anyone who might have contributed to Blumenthal’s bail fund to “ask for your money back.”

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