Philadelphia protesters say the Democratic Party needs to stand up to police brutality

Casey Tolan and Summer Concepcion

PHILADELPHIA—Delphine Matthews marched down the middle of Broad Street on Tuesday afternoon with her head held high. "Whose lives matter?" she shouted, echoed by several hundred marchers around her. "Black lives matter!"

Those words are especially powerful for Matthews. Her son Frank McQueen, 34, was shot and killed by police two years ago in what officers said was a gun battle in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester. A photo of him smiled down from the handmade sign Matthews held aloft, while he grinned in another photo emblazoned on her bright blue T-shirt.


"There's a hole in my heart and a hole in my head," she said. "I am here because I want to lend a voice to ones who have no voice."

Matthews was marching through the 95-degree heat on Tuesday as part of a protest during the Democratic National Convention against police brutality. While presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and other leaders of the party have spoken out against police violence, Matthews and her fellow protesters said the party could be doing much more.

Delphine Matthews
Summer Concepcion

"They should focus on police brutality and community policing at the DNC," Matthews said, as a bead of sweat dripped down her forehead. "Police need to learn how to communicate with the community and how to work with them. This can't happen if you send a cop who grew up in the suburbs to a black community they know nothing about."


She looked up longingly at the photo of Frank on her sign. "I deserve to know what happened to my son," she said.

The march began on the city's north side, at the campus of Temple University, and then proceeded down Broad Street to City Hall. Protesters carried signs with the names of black victims of police violence: Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Rodney King, Philando Castile. "No justice, no peace!" they chanted. "People power over the police!"


Officers on bikes kept pace on either side of the march, while speakers on a pickup truck shouted into megaphones, urging the demonstrators on.

The crowd appeared far more diverse than the larger but mostly white rally of Bernie Sanders supporters who marched through the center of the city yesterday.

Ysabel Torres
Summer Concepcion

Ysabel Torres, 19, a student from Providence, R.I., said she was disappointed with the Democratic Party's response to police brutality. "Obama hasn't commented enough on Black Lives Matter–he's talked more about Blue Lives Matter," she said. "Hillary also needs to participate more in the conversation. None of the candidates running are as involved as they should be. Discussing black lives should be highlighted at the convention to let us know that we matter to them."


Torres explained that she was marching through the infernal heat "because it's not a choice. Police are killing us and we have to let police know that we're watching," she said. "It's no longer just a movement—it's now a revolution."

The Democratic Party platform adopted on Monday seems to give more attention to police violence than any party platform in American history, urging support for new national guidelines on police use of force, an end to racial profiling, and federal investigations of "all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings." And during the first night of speeches at the convention, several big names—including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker—hailed Black Lives Matter protesters.

Tiffany Cruz
Summer Concepcion

But the words weren't enough for protesters like Tiffany Cruz, 26, a community organizer in Philadelphia. She said she hoped the convention did more to focus attention on criminal justice reform and police brutality.


"The Black Lives Matter movement needs to be more embraced within the Democratic Party," she said. "The movement needs everyone involved. I'm Latino and I feel that black lives matter is THE movement to have other minority voices heard as well."

Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.

Summer covers the circus that is the 2016 presidential election. Although now based in Brooklyn, she considers her native LA and college residence of Chicago as her hometowns. When not geeking out about politics, she's full-time fangirling over too many bands.

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