Philadelphia protest
Police and hundreds of protesters squared off Nov. 17 at Independence Mall, where the protesters were opposing a tiny conservative rally called 'We the People.' One protester faces federal charges of assault for punching a Philly cop. (Getty Images)

Philly protesters showed up in force to oppose what was touted on social media as an alleged white-nationalist rally in Philadelphia purportedly organized by the "Proud Boys." Now, some of them are fundraising to support a Jewish man who was misidentified as a "Nazi" and beaten up during the event, at which only two so-called Proud Boys were spotted.

The "We the People" rally in Old City on Nov. 17 only had two dozen actual participants, but hundreds of protesters were also at Independence Mall – separated from the rally by Philly police – denouncing the rally-goers as "Proud Boys" and Nazis.

The protesters included a cross-section of politically involved Philadelphians, ranging Philly Socialists, Antifa, the IRA, and a socialist, Antifa-leaning group calling themselves the "Fellow Worker Gritty Coalition," in honor of viral Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty.

According to Philadelphia police, four of the protesters were detained during the protest and counter-protest, which netted national headlines. All four got "code violation notices" (CVNs), aka court summonses, and none were formally charged by local authorities. But one of the four, Brian Glantz, 23, was arrested for assault on a police captain and now faces federal charges.

 

The captain was transported to Hahnemann Hospital, but did not require medical attention. Glantz, of Glenside, Pa., was detained by U.S. Park Rangers on Saturday, and on Monday, after a Magistrate Court hearing, was released on bond pending charges of assault and aggravated assault on an officer in the performance of duties.

“Assaulting a law enforcement agent – whether a federal, state, or local officer – is a crime that I take very seriously,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “There is no excuse for it. No matter who you are, if you assault an officer and there is federal jurisdiction, I will bring the full weight of my office down upon you.”

According to a press release from McSwain's office, as the "We the People" group "waved flags and made speeches, approximately 500 protesters gathered, "yelling obscenities at both the permitted group and at state, local, and federal law enforcement officers. As officers kept the two groups separate, Glantz allegedly "pushed back at the officers and, while on Park property, punched a Philadelphia Police Department officer in the side of his face as he was in the performance of his duties; the defendant continued to resist the officers’ efforts to arrest him, kicking his legs and wrestling with the officers and park rangers." Glantz or his attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

Additionally, a 31-year-old Asian female was detained for disorderly conduct by U.S. Park Rangers; and a 35-year-old and 26-year-old white male were both detained for failure to disperse at 5th and Market streets. The 26-year-old got a second citation for marijuana found in his possession. 

The rally was hyped up on social media as an event organized by the "Proud Boys," a semi-militant far-right organization which has been described as white nationalist/supremacist by their opponents and calls themselves "Western chauvinists." Several of their members were arrested in October in New York City after a violent clash with left-wing protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan after their founder Gavin McInnes had given a speech. Documents from the Clark County Sheriff's Office in Vancouver, Washington posted online on Nov. 19 state that the FBI has categorized the Proud Boys as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism,'" a designation the FBI has not officially confirmed or commented on publicly.

While two of the Proud Boys from New York were reportedly spotted at the Philadelphia event, the actual permit for the event was obtained at Independence Mall by the "Sports, Politics and Beer II" Facebook group. The organizers posted live-streaming videos from the rally corralled off in the middle of Indepence Mall, at which speakers denounced fascism, racism and the media, and discussed the U.S. Constitution, their support for President Trump, and debated Libertarianism versus the Republican party.

Meanwhile, outside the rally, things got violent when a 34-year-old Jewish man from Philadelphia was mis-identified as a "Nazi" and "Proud Boy."

The victim was attacked, hid his face under his jacket as he tried to escape, then got head-butted by one of the protesters.

According to BillyPenn.com, who interviewed the victim, he said he had spoken to people near the "We the People" rally, then noticed he was being filmed by a protester, and things quickly escalated, with protesters allegedly yelling, "This guy’s a Nazi! This guy’s a Proud Boy!" and attacking him before he was head-butted. He made it into a cab and fled, and did not require medical attention.

The Fellow Worker Gritty Coalition (FWGC) has since started a GoFundMe for the victim, who they call "an unaffiliated protester [who] was misidentified as a Proud Boy." 

"Leftist orgs in Philly are working towards an accountability process between the unidentified instigators with antifa flags and the person who was assaulted during the We The People rally," FWGC said. "We understand there will be questions about 'antifa attacking a Jewish man.' Our official statement is we do not know who the instigators are because of the numerous amount of out of towners participating in the rallies. We are working to identify them within our organizations, and we would like to express our condolences to the person who was attacked. As a community of anti-fascists, we work to collaborate against far-right organizations and to uplift our comrades, especially in instances of strife."

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