A white supremacist group based in Texas attempted a march on Philadelphia over the Independence Day weekend, but had to celebrate the holiday the Confederate way.
“They literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia,” Michael Crum, a police officer in the city, told local ABC station WPVI.
About 200 masked and khaki-clad members of the Patriot Front organization, listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, marched on the city in the Saturday night incident, NBC Philadelphia reported.
They chanted about the election and “reclaim America,” engaged in pushing and shoving with people, and took a reporter’s cellphone, the station said.
But that boldness quickly faded as more residents turned out.
“They started engaging with citizens of Philadelphia, who were none too happy about what they were saying,” Crum told WPVI. “These males felt threatened, and, at one point, somebody in their crowd threw a type of smoke bomb to cover their retreat.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “appalled” that the group chose his city for its demonstration.
“While we respect everyone’s right to exercise free speech, our administration stands against everything these groups represent,” he wrote on Twitter. “Racism, intolerance, and hate have no place here.”
Photos and videos from the scene, including images captured by a Philadelphia Inquirer photographer, show them fleeing in Penske box trucks.
One member of the white supremacist group was hit and fell when another member pulled the truck’s roll-up door down, slamming him in the head in the process:
Police stopped the vehicles and footage shows them questioning, frisking and detaining members of the group.
However, police told NBC Philadelphia that there were no arrests, nor were there any reports of injuries or damage.
One local activist said police didn’t do enough to stop the white supremacists from assaulting bystanders.
“It’s obvious that, when Black folks and people who are our accomplices and allies organize in the streets, they are met with a different kind of response from police,” Abdul-Aliy Muhammad told the Inquirer.
Shira Goodman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told CBS Philadelphia that her organization will investigate to make sure the group didn’t get special treatment from the police.
ProPublica in 2019 called Patriot Front “perhaps the most active white supremacist group in the nation.”
The organization said the group was founded after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.