UPDATED: 7:05 p.m.
At a rally in West Philaldelphia's Malcolm X Park that drew hundreds of people, Saudia Durrant, an organizer with the Philadelphia Student Union, said the movement to defund and abolish police is really about reallocating resources.
"Before the pandemic, our students were in schools where they could barely have soap every day, barely have toilet paper, barely have water fountains that work," she lamented.
Durrant gave examples of school police terrorizing students for minor infractions, including one at Ben Franklin High School in which she said students videotaped an officer assaulting a student allegedly because he didn't have a hall pass.
"Laporshia Massey died in 2014. She had a nurse that was only employed for two days out of the week," she recounted. "And that day she had an asthma attack, that nurse was not there. But a cop can be in there full-time."
Black Lives Matter Philadelphia member Krystal Strong said Philly is one of the most heavily policed cities in the country.
"Do you know that the University of Pennsylvania has the third largest private police in the country?" she asked. "Do you know that Temple University has the largest private police force at a public university in the state and the second or third in the country?"
Strong added much of that force is used disproportionately against Black and brown people who would be better served through social services rather than police.
"The fact that police could monopolize so much of our public resources speaks to the lack of control we have over the resources that our ours."
Durrant said retraining police is not the answer, as they've tried that in schools. And she vowed that protesters will continue to put pressure on School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite throughout the summer.
Jed, one of the organizers with Philadelphia Socialist Alternative, talked about their calls to defund the police.
"We're calling to slash the police budget by 50% immediately, and to take that money and put it into social serrvices, counseling, restoratice justice, things like that, which is going to much better effect," he said.
Protesters marched through Center City to converge upon the site. The Pennsylvania State Police were called to control and divert traffic through the area, including shutting down the Vine Street Expressway in both directions.
A growing crowd then marched down North Broad Street to City Hall, where they encircled the building. The march finally came to a halt at 3rd and Race Streets, before dispersing.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this report, Saudia Durrant's name was mispelled. We apologize for the error.