Philly activists fight back against election theft and economic crisis
Demonstrators march to urge that all votes be counted and to spotlight the impacts of the economic crisis and police violence, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Philadelphia. | Matt Slocum / AP


PHILADELPHIA—The counting of votes in Pennsylvania continues, as do the marches demanding that the results of the election be protected.

Many throughout the Philadelphia area are protesting to ensure every vote is counted, but the complaints of demonstrators here are about more than just the election. Many of the speakers at a rally on Nov. 4 targeted the economic problems caused by the pandemic.

One speaker pointed to the thousands of evictions underway, and the fact that many who participated in the march were themselves either homeless or living in shelters.

Across the country, millions remain jobless, facing wanton food insecurity and brutal poverty. The outgoing president has made no attempt to push the Republican Senate to approve help for the unemployed on the scale of the HEROES Act nor provide a second stimulus check. Instead, he let the GOP cause gridlock on the issue, despite the desperate condition of the American people.

The participants of the march in Philly also had another grievance—police brutality in the city. Police just released the body camera footage of the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man who struggled with mental health issues. The cell phone footage showed the police shooting of Wallace. However, the police says it wants to examine the police body camera before making any determination about the case.

After the incident, Philadelphia residents hit the street to express their outrage, but the intervention of African-American leaders and clergy directed protests toward sustained political struggle.

Participants in the march began their protests between the two statutes of the famed Civil War generals, General George McClellan, and General John Fulton Reynolds. Reynolds was killed in the battle of Gettysburg. They chose this sight as a symbol of the willingness to fight against slavery. They marched around city hall to meet Black Lives Matter spokespeople on the other side in front of the statute of Octavius Catto, an African-American civil rights leader in the 18th century who fought for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

This march of several socialist parties and organizations and Black Lives Matter took place as the city was enveloped in the darkness of night. It ended at Independence Hall, a place where the first White House stood and the site where a young woman successfully escaped from slavery from the president’s mansion. She was able to do this even though the leader of the party in charge of capturing the fugitive slave was the Secretary of the Treasury, since the woman was considered the property of the federal government.

This same site would be the place where a second protest would take place on Thursday, Nov. 5. It was a sitin to ensure citizens’ right to vote would be protected and every vote would be counted. 

When the first march occurred, President Trump led in Pennsylvania by 700,000. By the end of the march, the lead had shrunken to over 200,000, and by the next day at the close of the sit-in, at the 5:00 pm hour the President’s lead had dwindled to slightly over 100,000. It was at this point that Trump and his Attorney General called for the use of armed federal agents to monitor the counting of ballots, despite a federal law that prohibits firearms at the polling place.

As of Friday morning, Trump’s lead in the Pennsylvania count was completely wiped out, revealing Joe Biden as the winner on Election Day.

The AFL-CIO has threatened a general strike if Donald Trump attempts to steal the election or prohibits the lawful counting of voting. No coup d’etat will be tolerated in the United States of America.

Whatever the outcome of the election, activists here in Philly are determined to keep up the struggle for economic and racial justice.


Karamo Muchuri Sulieman
Karamo Muchuri Sulieman

Karamo Muchuri Sulieman is an artist, poet, and writer in Pennsylvania.