A surge of activism has filled Philadelphia with daily protests ever since the first demonstration spurred by the police killing of George Floyd.
Whether directly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement or other related causes, there have been so many events that it’s tough to keep track — much less figure out where to put your energy in participation.
A new website called Philly Protest — find it at phillyprotest.com — aims to help keep track of all the regional happenings.
With a tagline that advertises it as the place to “find other people taking action for important stuff in the Philly area,” the site displays a chronological list of rallies, marches, walks, vigils and gatherings. Click through and you’ll find more details about each one, including a link to organizers’ own event pages.
In the week or so since its launch, the site has inspired some rumors that it was developed by law enforcement to monitor local activists.
Not so, said creator Chris Hershberger-Esh. The 32-year-old web designer bought the domain name on June 3 and launched the site on June 4 — quicker than his normal professional turnaround, but he felt there was an immediate need.
He was right. In its first five days, the website clocked 30,000 page views and saw dozens of event submissions.
“I was like this just needs to get out there,” Hershberger-Esh said. “It’s been an exciting week, to say the least.”
When he heard about the created-by-cops rumor, Hershberger-Esh posted an about page to clarify his identity and intentions. There, the West Philly resident describes the genesis of the site, which was the realization that he’d have to repeat his own long search in order to keep finding protests to attend.
He’s also developed some criteria for the events he’s willing to post.
Protests and vigils are OK, he said, but not fundraisers. And though he tries to be unbiased in the protests he’ll accept, he said he would turn down hate groups, Trump rallies and All Lives Matter gatherings. Another important rule: Your protest has to have its own standalone page to link out to — like a Facebook event or Instagram flier.
“I don’t want my platform to be the only source of information that people can rely on,” said Hershberger-Esh, who had to remove a post earlier this week after an organizer canceled the day of the event.
Hershberger-Esh estimates he receives three to six event submissions each day, plus a few people reaching out with feedback.
He’s not going to force it — if the site tapers off, it tapers off — but he’s hoping it doesn’t. Ideally, fresh activist events could continue to live there for a while.
“Seeing how much stuff is happening in one place, for me that has had an impact,” Hershberger-Esh said. “The story it tells about how broadly this movement has spread has been a great thing to watch.”