Protesters packed Center City Thursday to express their outrage with President Donald Trump, who came to Philadelphia to address the 2017 Joint Congressional Republican Retreat.
Signs carried messages that ranged from “Impeach the traitor!” to “Trump/Pence regime: illegitimate fascist.”
The demonstrators included 73-year-old Jean Woodley, of Mt. Airy, who said she hadn’t been driven to march in 50 years, since Selma and the March on Washington.
“Everyone who loves this country has to stand up," she said. "I am just appalled at what I see every day in the news. He just comes in and is creating chaos on every front. How much trauma can we stand?”
As the protesters chanted, Philadelphia City Council was busy at their first session of 2017. They unanimously passed a resolution introduced by council members Helen Gym and Curtis Jones Jr. to uphold the city’s “support for and protection of Muslim communities.”
“The widespread ignorance about Muslims in this country at this moment is truly astonishing, with those most loudly condemning Muslims in this country hardly knowing the difference between hummus and Hamas,” said Jacob Bender, executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, who testified in support of the resolution.
During Trump’s speech before the Republican retreat in Center City, Trump stated that “Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady — I mean — just terribly increasing.”
In fact, homicides in Philadelphia are continuing to decline, with 277 homicides reported in 2016. Mayor Kenney called Trump’s statement “an insult” to city police.
“While we are not satisfied with even our current numbers,” Kenney said in a statement, “we arehandicapped by Republican refusal to enact any kind of common sense gun control and by their obsession with turning our police officers into ICE [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] agents— which willprevent immigrants from coming forward to report crimes or provide critical witness statements that can put dangerous criminals behind bars.”
Kenney said the city has no plans to change its sanctuary city policies after Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that his spokesman Sean Spicer said would “strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants.”
“I am very, very concerned about the adverse impact to the citizens of this city if President Trump continues to move forward on cutting off federal funds to the city of Philadelphia,” said City Councilman David Oh, a Republican.
Oh noted that state Rep. Martina White, a Philadelphia Republican, introduced a bill last year to strip state funding from the city over its sanctuary policy. The bill stalled, but White said Wednesday she will reintroduce it this year.
“Together, the impact is catastrophic if they both pass and are implemented,” Oh said of Trump’s order and White’s bill.