International Women’s Day Protest shuts down Philly streets during rush hour

The group snarled traffic during its four-block-long peak Wednesday afternoon.


Hundreds  shut down the streets of Center City Wednesday night for the International Women’s Day protest — the local effort of the world-wide day focused on women’s and laborer’s rights.

Many of the men, women and children gathered to hear the march’s speakers were wearing red, honoring the international efforts happening in organized strikes and marches in at least 40 other countries.

While some women were on strike from work today, Philly Socialists organizers told Billy Penn they intentionally started the march at 5 p.m. for those who could not simply walk out of their jobs.

Many wore red in honor of the international effort.

Many wore red in honor of the international effort.

Jen Rossi, wearing a red pussy hat, said she met with executives at her company and explained why she was requesting off, and hoped they would understand.

“I work in a professional office, and I have that level of privilege, so I’m marching for all the women who can’t be here,” she said.

At Logan Square, protesters heard from a host of speakers from groups including Black Lives Matter, the Philadelphia South East Asian Collective, the Philly Tenants Union, the Equality Coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike.

Before heading down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway toward city hall, event organizers read the International Women’s Day demands in English and Spanish:

  • End gender violence
  • Full reproductive freedom
  • Labor rights for paid and unpaid work
  • Social previsionary rights and  protection of social programs like welfare
  • Anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism

At about 5:30, a few hundred people headed down the Parkway toward City Hall. Chants like, “My Body, My Choice” and “Trans Lives Matter,” made their way through the crowd while a few passersby joined the march.

Because, well, we're in Philly.

Because, well, we're in Philly.

The protest stopped at a few points along its route, to point out buildings like the Department of Human Services building at 15th and Arch Streets, Hahnemann University Hospital and Thomas Paine Plaza.

While the organizers of the march emphasized the differences between the International Women’s Day March and the Women’s March on Jan. 21, protests signs were out in full force.


A sign, quoting Maya Angelou's Still I Rise poem.

At 6 p.m., the march was about three blocks long and had turned South down Broad Street of Vine when it paused near the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

“At 6 p.m. all across the world where the marches are happening, we’re stopping to make some noise,” event organizer Olivia Ngo told Billy Penn through a crowd of cheering people and honking cars.


Protesters shut down Broad Street near City Hall.

The route continued on Filbert Street, turning south on 12th, as people came out of businesses and their homes to watch, yell or join the protest.

At its largest, the crowd spanned three or four blocks, halting rush-hour traffic. The route ended, just longer than two miles, at Thomas Paine Plaza at 6:45. There, members of Philly Socialists pointed out the statue of former Mayor and Police Commissioner, Frank Rizzo.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 8.10.05 PM

The march's route.

“This homophobic, fascist, racist, piece of shit man does not represent Philly’s women and femmes,” one organizer yelled into a bullhorn, while the crowd repeated after her.

After covering the Rizzo statue in signs reading, “protect trans WOC,” “protect undocumented women,” and “Transmisogyny is a women’s issue,” organizers thanked protesters for marching with them, and invited them to join the post-march discussion at the William Way LGBT Center at 13th and Spruce Streets.


The Frank Rizzo statue covered in signs


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