Police intervene after a protester stormed the stage

Updated 4:15 p.m.

A protester was led away in handcuffs Friday evening after disrupting a rally at City Hall where Sen. Bernie Sanders was stumping for Pa. Lt. Gov. candidate John Fetterman.

The man, who appeared to be a local activist named Billy Taylor, clambered on stage as Sanders was speaking. After tossing a chain around the railing so he was physically attached, he moved to a position directly behind the podium.

Credit: jared gruenwald photography

Sanders repeated his standard call to action for the “progressive movement” — “We are going to transform this country and create a government that works for all of us and not just wealthy campaign contributors!” — and reiterated his support for Fetterman, the Braddock, Pa., mayor who made a run for Pat Toomey’s seat in 2016 and was one of the first to endorse Bernie.

As that happened, the protester brought a megaphone to his lips and began to shout.

Credit: jared gruenwald photography

What he said wasn’t entirely clear, though PMN reports it was “something about Russia.”

A Green Party activist on Twitter later identified the man as Billy Taylor, and said his message had to do with holding Sanders accountable “for echoing false narratives” about the 2016 election.


During the 2016 campaign, Taylor had been a vocal Sanders supporter. A landscape business owner from Northeast Philly, Taylor gained a brief bit of fame during the DNC when he became the holder of no less than six protest permits, per a PhillyVoice story from two years ago.

On Friday, Security staff and Philadelphia Police officers quickly jumped on the platform to shut down the disruption — and then discovered the chain locking Taylor to the banister.

Credit: jared gruenwald photography

A pair of giant shears were brought in, and police worked for several minutes to cut through the metal chain. Eventually they succeeded, and Taylor was led away in handcuffs.

Credit: jared gruenwald photography

Police declined to confirm his identity or say if charges were filed.

After Taylor was taken away, Fetterman spoke, as did his wife Gisele, a formerly undocumented immigrant from Brazil who is herself politically active.

Rally for John Fetterman with Bernie Sanders at Philadelphia City Hall Credit: jared gruenwald photography

The rally capped a busy day in Philly for Sanders. Earlier, the former presidential candidate participated in a roundtable on criminal justice with District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Despite similarities in their campaign platforms, the two progressive politicians had never before met, Krasner’s office told PMN. They found plenty in common during the discussion, which was moderated by journalist Daniel Denvir, also included African American studies professor and author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Civil Rights Corps litigation director Premal Dharia.

The panel, which was livestreamed on Facebook and also live-tweeted by journalist Abraham Gutman, covered a range of topics, from the opioid crisis to cash bail to education reform.


Unlike at the rally earlier, there were no interruptions from protesters — and definitely no mention of Russia.

Danya Henninger is a Philadelphia-based journalist who believes local news is essential for thriving communities, and that its format will continue to evolve. She spent six years overseeing both editorial...