Protest personalities: Erica Mines

    Erica Mines of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

    Erica Mines of the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

    City officials expect as many as 50,000 protesters a day to hit Philadelphia’s streets and a demonstration zone at FDR Park, across from the Democratic National Convention taking place at Wells Fargo Center.

    Each day, we’ll profile a protest leader to give you a peek at the personalities behind the chants and signs.

    Want to participate in or watch a protest march? Or would you prefer to dodge protests — and the traffic congestion they could cause — altogether? The DNC Action Committee has a protest master schedule online.

    Cause

    Police brutality and violence, and racial injustice. She’s an organizer and steering committee member for Philly Coalition for REAL (Racial, Economic And Legal) Justice.

    Strategy

    Rallies, marches in neighborhoods affected by police brutality, civil disobedience, and confrontations with those she views as oppressors — for example, an April argument with Bill Clinton. Her group will hold a Black DNC Resistance March Against Police Terrorism and State Repression on Tuesday, from Broad and Diamond to City Hall, and participate in a Shut Down the DNC march.

    Age

    38

    Day job

    “Other aspects of my life are private.”

    Home base

    Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia

    Bet you didn’t know

    Mines was just 6 when Philadelphia police dropped two bombs on the MOVE compound in West Philly in 1985, but it still stands out in her mind. “That was my first introduction to revolutionary, radical resistance,” she said. But she didn’t become an activist until 2008, when she joined the Obama campaign, manning call centers, registering people to vote and otherwise working to drum up support for him. She describes that time as “fun,” but her activism took an angry turn in recent years as she became more politically aware and “understood more what it means to be in power. The more I read and study, the more I understand that we live in a white-male-dominated, misogynistic, poor-people-excluded society.”

    Of protest chants outsiders condemn as incendiary, Mines emphasizes that her group does not call for the deaths of police officers, but she otherwise offers no apologies: “We do not police people’s tone, language, rage, or anything else, because people have been policed so much already in their communities.”

    Beyond her activism? “I’m an average person,” she said, adding that she’s a fervent gardener who grows her own produce, herbs and flowers and an artist who makes and sells jewelry and other hand-crafted artworks.

    In her words

    “If we are to have a more conducive society — one that protects its citizens — then we need to take an honest look at our policing and realize it is a morally corrupt system. It’s a racist institution that has subjected poor people in this country for centuries to harassment, violence, and murder. Because this is a historically oppressive system, this is about abolishing the system, not reforming it. There is no such thing as a good cop in a racist system. Philadelphia has one of the most violent police forces in the country — Najee Rivera, Tyree Carroll, Brandon Tate Brown, the MOVE bombing. We had an openly racist mayor [Frank Rizzo], who [when he was police commissioner] literally stripped Black Panthers in public. This city is always on the brink. Do we need some form of criminal justice? We do. But communities deserve to have their rights. They deserve to be served and protected. They deserve to not be harassed and beaten and murdered. This system is broken.”

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