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United for Justice in Baltimore “Philadelphia is no different than Baltimore.”

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J. Smith El Hispano Philadelphia – Tony Gomez, 26, recalled the only time he was stopped and searched by Police. It happened more than five years ago in Frankford. But he still remembers the sense of anxiety and feeling like “less of a person.” “They said I fit the description of someone they were looking for. But I’m not a bad person. I’ve never been arrested or have a criminal record,” added Gomez. “I was just walking down the street and I knew they were looking at me.” “It makes you feel like you got no rights or you’re less of a person,” he said. “So I’m here to show solidarity and support for Baltimore and the other places.” Gomez joined a diverse crowd of more than two thousand assembled at a refurbished Dilworth Park, Thursday, as younger and more defiant voices delivered that same message of anxiety and frustration over repeated acts that have resulted deaths of unarmed black men. “No Justice, No Peace,” was the chant that followed remarks of more than a dozen speakers, a group that included the mother of Philadelphia’s Brandon Tate Brown. Tate Brown was shot during a routine stop that resulted in a skirmish with police officers who saw him reach for what they assumed was a gun. Organized by the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice (REAL), the early evening rally intended to show solidarity with Baltimore, and that the recent spate of violent incidents were indicative of a nationwide problem. Donning a ‘Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, Shante Rosado reiterated the theme of the rally, saying, “Philadelphia is no different than Baltimore.” “We have rampant poverty, high unemployment and homelessness,” argued Rosado. “We need to get to the root of these problems, and not just look at the particular incidents. It’s not just about Baltimore. It’s about a democracy that’s not really a democracy.” A member of the ubiquitous “Fight for $15” movement, Shamira ran through a litany of acts of violence that go beyond bullets: “Cutting off the heat, cutting off the water and electric service is an act of violence,” she said. “Our lives matter. And the fight for $15 an-hour is just the beginning.” “The media needs to stop focusing on the violence of the protests,” said Iram Alam. She suggested that the “structure was entirely corrupt” and designed to “alienate” the poor and minorities. Noting a large number of young white, Latino and Asians in the crowd, several of the speakers called for them to support the “revolutionary’ movement for change. One woman even used a historical reference, urging “people to become more like John Brown,” and African Americans to be “more like Harriet Tubman.” An active lay-minister in Delaware County, Olga Reyes expressed sympathy for both the victims and the police. But, citing a biblical verse, she told El Hispano, there is a need to “respect authority,” at every level. “The police see a lot of the worst,” in our society. “It’s not (an) easy” job. After more than an hour of speeches, the groups proceeded into a peaceful march down South Broad Street. Since the march, six Baltimore Police officers were charged with manslaughter and other charges in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Three of the officers were white and three were African-American.

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