Vice President Mike Pence was in Philly on Monday for the second time this summer, this time to attend a fundraiser for Lou Barletta, the Republican vying for Sen. Bob Casey’s seat this November.
His visit to the event at the fancy Union League on South Broad turned out a lot like his last trip to Philly. When the VP showed up in June, he was met with thousands of protesters while he dined at the fancy Rittenhouse Hotel for a Republican Governors Association fundraiser.
About 100 people turned out on Monday evening, donning uniforms like those depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel-turned-TV-show about a country named Gilead where fertile women are imprisoned to birth children for wealthy men.
Behind the red robes were about a hundred more Philly people, all protesting in plain clothes. They projected chants and boos toward the Union League, while the “handmaids” stayed silent and bowed their heads.
Billy Penn livestreamed the protest.
At the instruction of organizer Sam Goldman, about 20 minutes into the protest, the “handmaids” removed their costumes and threw them on the ground.
“This is not a symbol,” Goldman said to the crowd. “The world of Gilead that was meant to be a dystopian fiction is a world that the Trump/Pence regime is hammering into place.”
The costumes were hand-sewn by a group of volunteers associated with the activist organization Refuse Fascism Philly.
It’s not the first time people have used visuals from the show — which they say represent a “repressive patriarchy” — to protest the current political administration. Handmaid’s Tale-themed protests have popped up in towns like Columbus, Ohio; Concord, New Hampshire; Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Philly state Rep. Brian Sims also attended the Monday evening protest. Last time Pence visited, Sims was vocal about his hatred for the VP — and this time was no different.
“One of my favorite things about being a Philadelphian is that we don’t mince our words,” Sims told the crowd of protestors. “We don’t say ‘you’re welcome here’ when we mean ‘get the hell out.'”
Noel Pattani, 37, made it to the Center City protest from her home in Upper Darby. She came out to support women’s rights — a topic she said is extremely relevant to The Handmaid’s Tale.
“[Pence’s] morality spectrum is off,” Pattani said, “and he’s trying to apply that to my life, which I don’t appreciate.”
In advance of Pence’s visit, Philly police blocked off sections of several Center City streets, including Broad and Walnut. In the midst of the several-hundred-person protest, everyday commuters took detours past them to get home from work.