Protests in Philadelphia as the votes for the 2020 election are counted and body camera footage of Walter Wallace Jr. is broadcast

While Wednesday brought both an anxious expectation of the counting of the ballots and the broadcast of body camera images of the Police murder of Walter Wallace Jr., approximately 1,000 people marched through Philadelphia in a double demonstration.

It was emblematic of the unrest facing the city and nation during an unprecedented period of pandemic and political and social unrest. For many on the streets Wednesday, Wallace’s death and the volatile election were linked, both products of what they called a failed system.

“We believe the same systems that try to prevent every vote from being counted are the same systems that murdered Walter,” said Bryan Mercer, executive director of the Movement Alliance Project.

The “Count Every Vote” protesters, organized by various progressive political groups, were responding to President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop the counting of votes, including claiming in a 2 a.m. speech that the counting of all ballots legally filed was “a fraud on the American public.” . Trump has vowed to challenge Pennsylvania’s election results in court on multiple fronts – even as his campaign prematurely declared victory in the state on Wednesday and the Commonwealth continued its laborious vote-counting process.

“We just want to make sure that people are not disenfranchised,” said Ian Manion, 19, who came to town hall on Wednesday evening with two other students from Temple University.

After camera footage of Wallace’s murder body was released by city officials following an early evening press conference, protests continued. The organizers acknowledged the video’s release, but, said Krystal Strong of the Black Philly Radical Collective and Black Lives Matter Philly: “There is no videotaped evidence that will ever allow us to say that their lives did. not important. “

“Let’s be clear: watch the movie, pass the movie around if you need to,” Strong told the crowd on Market Street at Independence Mall. “But the fact remains that Walter Wallace should always be here (…) and we will continue to fight until the police officers who killed him are held accountable, until they be fired, until they are jailed and this whole system is uprooted. “

During the city press briefing, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw identified the two officers who shot Wallace as Thomas Munz Jr., 26, and Sean Matarazzo, 25. Kenney described the body camera images as “graphic”, “violent” and “traumatic”.

Carrying both “Count Every Vote” and “Black Lives Matter” signs, protesters marched from City Hall to Independence Mall, then to Mayor Jim Kenney’s home in Old Town, chanting the names of Black people killed by the police. The organizers called the city to reallocate funding to social services and community support rather than spending more on police reforms.

“We will come to the mayor for as long as it takes to get justice. You will be uncomfortable. You will hear our voices, ”said Gabe Bryant of Philly Black Radical Collective once the crowd reached Kenney’s residence. “We will be here to seek justice until Sean Matarazzo and Thomas Munz are seen in handcuffs.”

Although police and National Guard officers were heavily present around Town Hall, there was no clash between law enforcement and protesters. The night march began to end at 8 p.m., as protesters gathered in a circle and called out the black marchers in the middle.

Together, they chanted: “We have nothing to lose but our chains.

The afternoon had already drawn hundreds of demonstrators to Center City, for a previous “Count Every Vote” rally organized by Indivisible Philadelphia on Independence Mall. Similar rallies were held in Delaware and Montgomery counties as part of a nationwide campaign of marches known as Protect the Results.

“There are people, too many people, people in power, who don’t want to count our votes,” Sheridan Earle of Montco Activists United said at the Norristown rally, referring to Trump and criticizing the US-controlled legislature. Republicans for refusing to change the law to allow county election officials to pre-scrutinize mail-in ballots before election day.

Reps Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle, both Democrats from Philadelphia, addressed the Philadelphia afternoon crowd as well as city council members, with Boyle slamming Trump’s comments early in the morning.

“Let me be absolutely clear,” Boyle said. “We’re not going to let him or someone else steal this election. Count every vote.

Votes in Pennsylvania are taking longer than usual to be counted as this was the state’s first year with mass mail-in voting. Counties were not allowed to start counting these ballots – over 2.5 million – until election day, and they will accept ballots until Friday, provided they are stamped in later Tuesday. It was known before election day that it would take several days to count the votes in Pennsylvania.

READ MORE: Unprecedented pandemic election in Pennsylvania went “remarkably smoothly.” All that remains is to count the votes.

“We are here to honor the election. We are here to honor the tally of every legally cast vote, ”said Vicki Miller of Indivisible Philadelphia, addressing the crowd at Independence Mall. “It’s going to take a little patience. It will take a little while. We knew that before the election, didn’t we? We knew this vote was not going to come out instantly.

The state Supreme Court’s decision to allow the acceptance of ballots after Tuesday is still the subject of a court challenge in the United States Supreme Court by Pennsylvania Republicans, who do not want to as votes that were mailed on election day but arrive between Wednesday and Friday to be counted.

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that was hidden by Twitter because it was misleading, Trump attempted to present the counting of legitimate ballots in Pennsylvania as a plot to “wipe out” his lead.

Mercer said Wednesday afternoon that progressive groups in Philadelphia have been bracing for this scenario – an uncertain outcome that could depend on Pennsylvania – for weeks.

“Now is not the time to just sit back,” he said. “Now is the time to show every leader and responsible person that we are going to be monitoring this process, and we are going to demand a full process, and demand that every vote be counted.”

Editors Oona Goodin-Smith, Andrew Seidman and Jeremy Roebuck and videographer Kristen Balderas contributed to this article.

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