Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In Philadelphia, Black Lives Matter Movement Marches on DNC
Protest organizers direct the crowd during a Black Lives Matter march Tuesday, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pa. The rally was one of several events planned to protest the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

By Tom Benning Follow @tombenning tbenning@dallasnews.com
Austin Bureau
26 July 2016 05:54 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Jacqueline Wiggins walked through a growing rally Tuesday in a historically black neighborhood here and admitted that advocating for equality was wearing her out.

"Give me a break," said Wiggins, a Philadelphia resident who is black. "I'm tired of fighting."

Then she paused.

"No, I'm not," she said with a wide grin.

The 66-year-old climbed on the back of a truck a few minutes later and fired up the crowd for the "Black DNC Resistance March." With that, she helped launch one of the most visceral shows of the Black Lives Matter movement around the Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic Party will elevate the cause in a more official way Tuesday night, when the "Mothers of the Movement" -- those who've lost children to violence -- speak to delegates. But the afternoon rally, which was not part of the official agenda, showed the movement at its roots.

Wiggins, among others, said she didn't have much use for the official proceedings later in the day.

"They listen for a minute and then it's over," she said.

The nationwide debate over police violence has gained even more prominence in recent weeks.

In Dallas, such a protest ended in tragedy this month when a gunman who acted outside of the march killed five police officers. And the lingering emotion from that event remained, not the least among the many Philadelphia police officers who were on duty for Tuesday's rally.

"A lot of these groups are positive -- they just want to get their message across," Sgt. Robert Kennedy said. "But there are some groups who don't like police, don't want to talk to the police, don't want anything to do with the police.

"And we deal with them the same way we deal with everyone else," he added. "Don't violate their rights. Keep things safe."

A diverse crowd showed up for the event, though an organizer surprised some attendees by asking white protesters to move to the back of the rally. The early crowd was passionate but mostly tame, with several making a point to condemn the killing of police officers.

Some marchers took an optimistic view that recent events might bring about change.

"More people are coming together in a unified way to solve these problems," said Omar Matthews, a 26-year-old Baltimore resident who briefly lived in Texas. "It's more solidarity."

Others, though, remained skeptical.

Kylie Bleau of Boston held a large sign that said those who kill innocent cops get bombed -- a nod to how police took out the Dallas shooter -- but that those police officers who kill innocent civilians "keep their jobs."

"The reason we're all here is that there isn't equal justice," the 27-year-old said. "We're supposed to be a country that values liberty and justice for all. And we don't [expletive] do that."

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