“We felt the need to call our men out today,” Pastor Carl Day told us as we marched under the street lights in central Philadelphia.
“With so much civil unrest going on, threats of violence, voter intimidation – people are protesting about things that we’re all affected by. But as Black men of the city, we don’t get included in those conversations. So we came out here to say: from today, we’re going to really be in front of this.”
About fifty men and women had joined Day for the hastily arranged march on Thursday night, as the final votes in the US election were still being counted. Among their number were faith and community leaders, educators and citizens from Day’s neighbourhood in North Philadelphia.
They were marching just minutes away from the pulsing, joyous carnival of the ‘Every Vote Counts’ demonstration, which had turned into a street party outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s final vote count. Confident that President Trump’s game was up, people were dancing, beating drums, releasing balloons and handing out free pizza.
But down the road, the mood was more sombre.
“You’ve got people coming from everywhere to this city trying to make sure that every vote is counted,” Day said. “But I find it disturbing.”
“Counting every vote is certainly important – it’s essential. But at the same time, if you were that compelled to stand up, and come out here to protect the vote, how much more important is it that every life should count?”
‘People in our cities are broken’
Just ten days earlier Philadelphia police had shot and killed a 27-year-old black man, Walter Wallace Junior, sparking protests and violent clashes. It was the latest in a long series of protests over police killings of Black people across the US. Authorities say they are investigating the incident, although there is very little confidence in the process among many of the demonstrators.
“People in our cities are broken,” Day said. “If we’re that passionate about politics, we should be willing to cross states and cities to help each other.”Print