'White Lives Matter' Rally Held in South Philadelphia, Local Councilman Attends

News & Politics

Nearly 200 white residents of South Philadelphia gathered earlier this week to protest what they claim is police inaction over several racially charged attacks in their neighborhood. Organized by a group called Taking Our South Philadelphia Streets Back, the assembled people said things like “White lives matter” (a corruption and cooptation of the Black Lives Matter movement’s mantra) and displayed signs reading, “We will no longer allow you to terrorize OUR neighborhood” and “White women’s lives matter.” Among the attendees was Mark Squilla, a local city councilman.

According to the protesters, police had refused to take reports about several racially charged attacks commited by four black women from a nearby neighborhood. Coverage of the rally by local ABC affiliate WPVI, below, includes interviews with two self-identified victims, a man and a woman, both of whom have chosen to remain anonymous, their faces obscured during the broadcast. The man said he and his 10-year-old son were randomly “attacked [while] sitting on [his] doorstep.” The woman said she saw, “four women attacking a white man” before moving on to her when she attempted to break up the fight. “And the next thing I know, I hear white (beep) we’re going to (beep) you up!” She claims the women followed her into her home where they spit on and punched her. 

Gawker, which first reported the story, did a bit more digging based on the advice of a local tipster, who suggested that organizer Jack Owens has a long history of making extreme racist statements. Owens, who is identified by name in the WPVI rally coverage and is shown reading a statement about the “females [who] have been terrorizing” the neighborhood, posted a now-cached announcement of the protest on Facebook in the days prior. But Owen’s own personal account has since been taken down. Gawker, crediting the anonymous tipster, was able to post several screen grabs of posts that had been up on Owen’s page, which includes generous use of the n-word, comparisons of African Americans to monkeys and highly original jokes about things like black people and fried chicken.



The tipster who sent the screen grabs to Gawker also offered an account of the incidents in question that differed from the protesters' version. Quoted from the Gawker site (which notes the tipster is “clear that his claims were unconfirmed”):

Supposedly there was an argument between some women wherein a white woman was struck by a black woman. The police were called and determined it was a mutual fight with no real injuries and left the scene without arresting anyone.

A small group of white people related to the white woman then organized a “protest” or rally. The rally was purportedly to speak out against violence in their neighborhood—specifically, they say, 4 black women they claim are “terrorizing” their neighborhood...

The general gist though is that it was a seemingly small incident (no blood drawn) but the locals wanted an arrest. When the arrest wasn’t forthcoming, it quickly became exaggerated into the neighborhood being “terrorized.” It’s just an unfortunate distortion of what happens in the neighborhood where a very small minority of white people feel inexplicably threatened by their diminishing role of “running” the neighborhood.

In January of this year, while many protesters around the country were taking to the streets to oppose police violence, Taking Our South Philadelphia Streets Back held a rally in support of officers, ostensibly as a sort of middle finger to anti-police brutality protesters. They also claimed that an incident involving a cyclist who was attacked by teens was part of the so-called Knockout Game (a fabricated issue of national concern that imagines black teens prowling the streets for innocent white people to punch out) and demanded “the District Attorney, Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council and all of Philadelphia’s legislators to come together" to see hate crime charges filed. As it turned out, police said the incident wasn’t part of the “knockout game” at all.

The South Philly “White Lives Matter” rally, which protested incidents in which not a single white life was lost, was held this past Tuesday. 

(h/t Gawker)

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