Philly protest marks deaths of Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor

PhillyResist protesters marched through the streets on Monday. (Avi Wolfman-Arent / WHYY)

PhillyResist protesters marched through the streets on Monday. (Avi Wolfman-Arent / WHYY)

About 50 protesters wound through Center City’s busy streets Monday to mark a pair of solemn anniversaries and demand police accountability.

The march — which went from Love Park to Rittenhouse Square — marked five years since the death of Sandra Bland, a Texas woman who died while in police custody, and four months since Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor in her apartment.

Shepherded through the streets by members of the Sixers Stixers — a drum line group that performs frequently at Philadelphia 76ers games — the protesters drew intense interest from groups of onlookers.

The demonstration was organized by a nascent group called PhillyResist, comprised of young people who said they met at prior police brutality protests over the recent months.

“It started off as an Instagram page really,” said Christian Harris, 22. “Now, we’re trying to turn it into our own organization.”

PhillyResist protesters marched through the streets on Monday. (Avi Wolfman-Arent / WHYY)

The protesters demanded the “immediate arrest of killer cops,” according to their promotional materials.

“We wanted to solidify what we’re doing for the city,” said organizer Alexis Smith, 25. “We felt it was very important for us to get together instead of all being separate entities.”

Smith was in college when a grand jury declined to charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, and attended her first rally shortly thereafter.

“It really changed my life,” said Smith.

She added that she’s been protesting regularly over the last two months as part of a hardy group that has continued to organize rallies around the region.

“It’s hard to have a life balance when I’m fighting for something I deal with every day,” said Smith. “I’m a black woman every day.”

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