Philadelphia police keep lid on dueling pro and anti-Trump marches

    A planned march by supporters of President Donald Trump in Philadelphia on Saturday was cut short due to a counterprotest.

    A “Make America Great Again” rally on Independence Mall was supposed to be followed by a march to the Art Museum and back, but the roughly one hundred Trump supporters were outnumbered by anti-Trump demonstrators circling the block. That group came with the intent of disrupting the Trump march, using the #DisruptMAGA hashtag.

    Similar pro-Trump rallies – called MAGA Marches – were held simultaneously in cities across the country, including Tom’s River, NJ, and Pittsburgh, Pa.

    The Philadelphia rally featured speakers such as Pennsylvania Republican Party chair Val Digiorgio, who urged Trump supporters to vote Republican in theupcoming, off-year elections for judges. Conservative podcaster Pastor George Cook offered examples from history of how America used to be great, once. Former Trump delegate Andrew Shecktor — a councilman in the Berwick borough of northeast Pennsylvania — campaigned to be the Republican nominee against Senator Bob Casey in the 2018 election.

    After the rally, police requested the pro-Trump demonstrators not march for fear of a violent clash with counter-demonstrators.

    On the first temperate day of spring, Independence Mall was crowded not just with demonstrators but thousands of tourists, including hundreds of children. Police, believing a violent clash was inevitable, asked that the march be canceled in order to protect bystanders.

    “They won this round,” said event coordinator Kevin Efaw to the gathered crowd.

    However, while pro-Trump demonstrators initially relented to the police request, later they began to march up Market Street anyway.

    “At first they were, like, ‘No, we’re not going to march.’ Then it was, ‘Yes, we’re going to march. Then it was no, then it was yes. I don’t know,” said Shelby Pague, who drove two hours to from the Maryland border to show her support for the president and the armed forces.

    “It got organized enough that the police said they were going to escort us. So we went,” she said.

    Most anti-Trump demonstrators were wearing black hoodies, and obscuring their faces with black facemasks. Some Trump supporters also arrived ready for physical confrontation; they wore padded gloves, protective eyewear, knee and elbow pads, and mouthpieces. Many also obscured their faces with black facemasks. 

    Samuel Hyde came from the Harrisburg area to act as a shield during the march.

    “We’re at the point in this country, we’re getting so divisive that we can’t back down to leftist violence,” he said. “We have to stand our ground.”

    The two groups volleyed near-constant chants and insults: from the pro-Trump side was heard “Go Away Snowflakes!” chant, the other side chanted “Our streets” as well as a lot of vulgarities.

    The clash between the two camps, while extremely hostile, was not violent. About 60 police on bicycles escorted about 100 pro-Trump demonstrators to City Hall. A much larger gathering of anti-Trump demonstrators had assembled in their path, a few blocks ahead at Logan Square.

    Again fearing a violent engagement, Philadelphia Police Inspector Melvin Singleton told at the pro-Trump marchers not to go forward. “This march is over,” he said.

    Once again, after initially conceding to the police, the pro-Trump marchers moved forward toward Logan Square.

    “You will not march!” shouted an enraged Singleton, chasing the pro-Trump marchers. “You will not engage in this city!”

    He forced the march to turn around at 16th and JFK Boulevard — about halfway to the Art Museum steps — as bicycle police formed two columns on either side of the protestors to protect them from counter-demonstrators.

    Anti-Trump demonstrators followed, taunting the pro-Trump marchers in an ongoing shouting match all the way back to Independence Mall. The march ended without serious incident.

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