Philly activists promise daily protests at LOVE Park if Trump claims victory early

Activists held an election night rally in front of Independence Hall in Old City, Philadelphia. (Michaela Winberg/Billy Penn)

Activists held an election night rally in front of Independence Hall in Old City, Philadelphia. (Michaela Winberg/Billy Penn)

Philadelphia activists organized a rally outside Independence Hall on Tuesday night to send a message to the incumbent president: Wait until all the votes are counted before you declare victory.

If President Donald Trump tries to call the race in his favor before all the votes are counted, particularly before all of Pennsylvania’s mail ballots are counted, they promised to march in the streets daily until he concedes.

Roughly 40 people showed up for the outdoor event, organized by national organization Refuse Fascism. It felt more like a celebration than it did an action — the activist group has been protesting the 45th president ever since his inauguration, and they spent the night he might get voted out sharing free pizza and hosting speeches and musical performances.

But the positive energy, they said, was only temporary.

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“The reason why we left nothing to chance is West and Southwest Philly have been ground zero for the disaster of this presidency,” said City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, a first-term lawmaker who represents West Philadelphia, describing her office’s efforts to get out the vote. “Now the fight begins to make sure every vote is counted.”

Gauthier said Trump’s most problematic policies have impacted her district — like his handling of the coronavirus, which is disproportionately killing Black people in the U.S. Since Gauthier’s West Philly district is majority Black, she took it personally.

Every day, Refuse Fascism organizers said, they’ll be protesting at LOVE Park — until President Trump concedes.

Even if he wins legitimately, it’s likely the activists will stay in the streets. Refuse Fascism’s mission statement is that a fascist regime — that’s a label they assign to Trump and VP Mike Pence — is never legitimate.

“We are gathering because the future is being written as we speak and we have a role to play in making sure that isn’t a fascist one,” said Sam Goldman, a member of Refuse Fascism’s editorial board. “And to celebrate defeating them, at the ballot and in the streets.”

Penn law student Becca Lynch showed up to the Independence Hall rally hoping to assuage her election night anxiety.

“I didn’t want to sit and be like scrolling through something on a computer or looking at something on a screen,” said the Graduate Hospital resident. “I really wanted to be with like-minded people. When I heard about this event, I thought this would be a place I could get some of that energy out.”

Some folks traveled farther. Brooklyn resident Chris Bruffe came out to relax after a day of canvassing and door-knocking in Pennsylvania. He figured the outreach would make more of an impact than in his native blue state.

“Coming down to Philly and the suburbs seemed like more of a powerful use of my time for the last few days,” Bruffe said.

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The 35-year-old isn’t going back home now that the election has ended. He’s planning to stay in Philly through the end of the week — and take to the streets if he needs to.

“Hopefully it’s not necessary, but yes,” he said. “If Trump doesn’t cede power, I think we need to protest.”

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