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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through Center City in response to a rally organized by the Proud Boys, a recognized hate group, on Saturday.
The Proud Boys group was present at the deadly rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The Southern Poverty Law Center marks them as an extremist group, which is why crowds hastened to Center City to protest their presence in the City Of Brotherly Love.
“They provoke and attack people on the streets who they deem to be unworthy of their far-right, fascist vision of the country,” organizers of the PushBack campaign wrote in their Facebook event for Saturday’s counterprotest.
“We wanted to have a rally today to talk about the constitution and a message of unity,” said Bobby Lawrence, organizer of We The People.
But the group feels their message got lost after alt-right and extreme left dialogue on social media.
“A lot of people on social media projected onto this rally what it was supposed to be based on an open forum chat,” said Lawrence. “We are not about hate, we are not about divisiveness. This is not a Trump rally. Now I support President Trump but this rally is not about President Trump.”
Video shows the protesters marching and chanting that the “alt-right has got to go.”
As hundreds gathered, areas around 6th and Market Streets were closed off to give way to the protesters and allow police to try to establish and maintain peace. A large police presence is shown in photos and videos shared on social media.
Some of the protesters wore costumes of Philadelphia’s newest mascot Gritty, which is seemingly becoming symbol amongst those demonstrating.
Gritty’s last appearance at a protest came on the heels of President Trump’s visit to Philadelphia in October.
During the protest, several disputes broke out. Video from social media shows members of the counterprotest fought with the police. In one of the videos shared on Twitter, a man is seen bleeding from his face as he’s being loaded into the back of a police van.
Another video shows a fight breaking out between Philadelphia police and counter-protesters.
The number of people that attended the rally may have something to do with organizers citing strength in numbers as a reason to attend the event.
“There is safety in numbers, so to ensure the protection of vulnerable individuals and communities, it is imperative that as many people as possible show up in opposition,” PushBack officials also wrote on Facebook.
So far, there is only one confirmed arrest. That protester was issued a citation.
Stay with CBSPhilly.com as this story develops.