In front of McDonald’s on the corner of Broad and Arch streets, Philip Gregory yelled out to a rally of about 500 people that this day was history in the making.
“This movement of Stadium Stompers is historic,” said Gregory, a sophomore English major. “This is the first time in Temple’s history, in North Philadelphia’s history where students and community members came together and said ‘We’re not going to take it anymore. We’re going to stand up for each other.’”
The “Stadium Stompers,” a collaboration of students and community members opposing Temple’s proposed stadium, Fight for 15 and Coalition for Real Justice held a “Day of Action” protest Thursday. Each group holding different objectives came together for a march down North Broad Street from Main Campus to City Hall.
The demands of the day from each organization included opposing Temple’s proposed stadium, $15 an hour for fast food workers and an end to stop-and-frisk policing.
Before marching to City Hall, students, faculty and community members participated in a Walk Out at 2 p.m., where a rally was held at the Bell Tower. Students from Temple’s Asian Student Association, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine and 15 Now spoke during the hour-long rally before the march.
College Union Poetry Slam International first-place winners from Temple’s Babel poetry group also performed a spoken-word poem during the rally, condemning the building of a stadium.
Joan Briley, who is the block captain for the 1500 block of Norris Street, lives across the street from the proposed stadium site.
“I was born and raised in that house,” Briley said during the rally at the Bell Tower. “When I open up my door every morning I see City Hall. I do not want to see a stadium.”
Around 3 p.m., rally participants walked down Polett and Liacouras walks to meet Fight for 15 protesters at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Another short rally about the need for $15 an hour was held before protesters began their march down North Broad Street to City Hall.
The protest occurred without arrest or incident, Philadelphia Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan told The Temple News. Police escorted protesters on bikes all throughout the city and rerouted all traffic to allow the protest to work safely.
“The First Amendment rights of people is a very important thing,” Sullivan said.”So you balance that against disruption and inconvenience—the First Amendment is always going to come out on top.”
“We wish all protesters were just like this group,” Sullivan added. “They’re definitely getting their objective across here. It’s a perfect example of protesters coming out: they can cause disruption and ensure their point is heard but at the same time they’re obeying the law and obeying the rights of other people.”
Throughout the Day of Action, protesters from Temple expressed need for a sexual assault crisis center and their worries for Amos Recreation Center. Protesters from all groups also discussed issues of white supremacy.
There were some who favored the stadium who yelled back at protesters at the Bell Tower Thursday.
“While it’ll remove a few people from the neighborhood and a few people from their homes, it’s going to provide jobs,” journalism major Chip Frenette said during the rally, after yelling over protesters. “[Protestors] are being stupid.”
But Levi Dillon, sophomore media studies and production major believes that those who are in favor of the stadium are unaware of history in Philadelphia.
“[Those in favor of the stadium] have no idea of the race relations in North Philadelphia,” Dillon said. “Temple’s not going anywhere, but we can coexist if we do it right, with the community.”
Some adjunct faculty also participated in the Day of Action. Melissa Degezelle, who is an adjunct professor teaching in the Intellectual Heritage Program, told the Temple News she attended to support all of the coalitions coming together to support a larger movement.
“We just won a union in the fall and we’re here supporting these folks for the things that they need, too,” Degezelle said.
Class of 1985 political science alumnus Michael Wilson also attended the rally Thursday to oppose the stadium.
“I’m a Temple graduate and I love Temple, but no,” Wilson said. “I don’t agree with the stadium being there.”
“The stadium by itself will have ripple effects for at least 10 blocks in all directions,” Wilson added. “It will push property taxes up way too high for people in North Philly. Because [North Philly residents] have no power, no money, no say, they are going to get moved out.”
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.