From Ida Vox

5/8/2020: Counterprotesters to the ReOpen Philadelphia protest block and disrupt the event.

The anti-fascist group, along with independent political actors blocked, diverted and diminished the caravan away from the City Hall roundabout.

Philadelphia, PA– Anti-quarantine and pro-Trump activists sought a successful anti-quarantine car caravan protest around City Hall Friday. But the demonstration ended with a whimper as opposing protesters caused problems for them.

In addition, the Philadelphia chapter of the neo-fascist Proud Boys, who announced a three hour joint protest time for a rally outside City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza that was supposed to start at noon, ended up not showing up at all.

The car caravan moved en mass from the south at Broad and Oregon Streets, towards City Hall. At the intersection of Chestnut and Broad Street, they were stopped by activists who went into the street and blocked them for up to 15 minutes. The car caravan was able to proceed when police arrived and cleared the roadway.

One of the vehicles that were a part of the Branch Covidian outing.

The caravan made a few spins around City Hall but it was again disrupted once again on the west side of City Hall where Market Street intersects with 15th Street when a line of roughly a half-dozen cars that were a part of a counter-action organized by Refuse Fascism intercepted the caravan at the stop light and blocked the intersection. After paralyzing the caravan, they got out their cars to chant and “banner drop.” One side of the banner said “Trump-Pence Must Go” and the other side said “REOPEN = DEATH.”

This is where the Proud Boys were going to be if they didn’t punk out.

After another 15 minutes or so the Refuse Fascism contingent left this major intersection, and left the anti-quarantine caravan seriously irritated. One caravan supporter reportedly threatened to slash the tires of the counter-demonstrators’ cars. No damage was observed however.

Soon after, police re-“routed” traffic away from City Hall, taking it off JFK Boulevard and moving it on to North Broad Street, and, Arch Street for a three block detour. This severed the caravan’s mass as it was fractured into small groups. Further aiding in this were counter-demonstrator elements within the caravan who instigated further interference. After approximately 80 minutes of a 180 minute-planned demonstration, large swaths of the car caravan were seen driving away from City Hall, heading in the direction of South Philadelphia.

Conservatives keep trying to pretend that neo-fascists that make them look bad are some sort of leftist plot. Why do they think that works?

The rally was organized by ReOpen Philadelphia, which was started by Victor Della Barba and his mother Jody, both longtime right wing activists in the city, Jody working as a secretary for Former Mayor Frank Rizzo, who was known for his racially polarizing efforts against the Black community. In addition to their Facebook page, there is another called ReOpen Philly, of which Proud Boy Zach Rehl is an administrator. The Philadelphia Proud Boys announced on their Telegram page that they were holding their rally at City Hall “to protest the unethical actions of tyrannical government arresting people for not closing their businesses!” At noon, there was no activity on Dilworth Plaza where they were supposed to hold their rally. At the time of this posting, the Proud Boys have not explained their absence.

Tensions flared on the ReOpen Philadelphia page over ReOpen Philly’s activities, prompting some there to disavow any association with the Proud Boy-related page. In 2018, Facebook banned the Proud Boys and any pages related to the group from its platform, but some like Sports, Beer and Politics, also maintained by Rehl, still remain, and they still create new ones such as ReOpen Philly.

This was one of the first times there was a counter to the ReOpen rallies that have been taking place across the country in the wake of the pandemic shutdown. “We stood up for science over willful ignorance, humanity first, not ‘America first;’ and chanted ‘Humanity, not Me-Me-Me.’” Refuse Fascism Philly posted to their Facebook page. “We are facing the immediate prospect of hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths from this regime’s handling of the pandemic alone, and they are using this to advance their fascist, genocidal agenda. It’s time to get organized to drive them from power.”

Pennsylvania has seen over 50,000 cases of Covid-19 and almost 3,500 deaths. Gov. Tom Wolf has said the shut down could extend into July.

UPDATE: 5/11/2020: This article was updated to note Jody Della Barba’s history with former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo.