Protesting Trump's GOP retreat in Philadelphia

February 10, 2017

Thursday, January 26th, Philadelphia hosted a Republican retreat, complete with Donald Trump and Theresa May. I got a ride with a friend of mine from highs  school -well, her sister is a close friend of mine, and I honestly don't remember when i fist met her, but I've known her for a long time. She even did my hair and makeup for my wedding. But anyway, we drove up to Philadelphia, found a parking lot (it cost $35 for a few hours of parking!) and found our way to Thomas Paine Plaza, where Beyonce was playing in a small square, filled with a few dozen people with signs. As time went on, more and more people arrived until it was full - and more kept coming.
Despite the rain we stood through several speakers, including some spoken word poetry, the sound system wasn't good enough for me to hear all the words, but the rhythm and syllables carried over the crowd. Lots of the speakers emphasized that we couldn't stand up for one issue, without standing for each other, that we couldn't protect healthcare without supporting clean drinking water and rights to physical safety.

A woman standing next to us excitedly told us her sister was going to be speaking soon. 
A nurse told the story of a patient of hers, a university senior who had been in a severe car accident. He did wake up, but he was paralyzed - all he could move was his face. The family had insurance, but even so they lost their home because of medical bills and had to move into a tiny one bedroom apartment with their injured son, taking turn sleeping on the sofa. This is the sorry state of healthcare in the US.

During the march that followed, there were drums, a cowbell, a man enthusiastically smacking a banjo, an acoustic guitar with a sign on it, earlier during the rally a sousaphone emerged through the crowds. I lost sight of it shortly after, and didn't hear it play.

There were lots of chants as we marched, some accompanied by snare drums:
  • Up, up, education! down, down deportation!
  • Call: show me what democracy looks like! Response: this is what democracy looks like
  • Black lives matter
  • We don't get no justice they don't get no peace
  • The women shouted out "my body, my choice." and the men answered "her body, her choice"
  • Hands to small to build a wall
  • The people united will never be defeated
  • We are the 99 percent
  • Build a fence, for Mike Pence (as first I thought it was "for my pets" - still reasonable - I'd much rather spend resources on making yards pet friendly - and happy pets means happy humans)
We reaching Senator Toomey's office, where I realized a parachute had caught up with us- reminiscent of elementary school gym class. The message painted on it was hard to read from ground level, but if you were on a higher up floor of one of the surrounding office buildings, you would have been any to read it perfectly.

Once our wave of protesters reached the end of the route, we figured we needed to get out of the way for the next group.  We decided to find some coffee to warm up with. I joked that we must be on the only street corner in Philadelphia where we couldn't see a Starbucks from... until she pointed out there was one down the street. Of course there was.

We couldn't find a seat, so we scooted ourselves into the window area (image sitting in a window display). A group of 3 African American high schoolers (I think) asked to see my friend's sign, and high-fived her. Two police officers came in and couldn't find seats either, so they stood near us. We spent a while chatting with another black guy who said Philadelphia was a conservative city, even after my friend pointed out it was the home of the mummers. He said that despite that it, was nearly impossible for him to put himself through school while holding a job, and that everything felt like a struggle.

When it was time to go home, one of the officers told us to "give 'em hell".

We drove back, and my friend dropped me off at my apartment, where I came home to my little family, my husband and our Reggie, the mischievous cat. I sat in front of a heater and warmed up while my husband made one of my favorite dinners, and I realize how lucky I am, and how my world is changing.

Some more photos:

There's a local protest Sunday I'm hoping to go to. Don't Give Up!

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