Two miles away at Artillery Park from the Amphitheatre, people of all ages came together for the Rally for Social Justice.
The rally was a “family-friendly,” non-confrontational counter-rally organized by the Center for Education Rights.
“There can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice with racism,” said speaker Karen Porter of the Chester County Peace Movement.
The grass-roots campaign was spear-headed by the director of CER, Phil Stinson, and local community members. The rally spread through word of mouth, posters and their website www.rallyforsocialjustice.org. The counter-rally also gained publicity through articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local news outlets.
According to volunteer organizers Jenny Roberts and Paul Sayko, they were careful to promote the rally as peaceful and non-confrontational. Participants were advised to stay away from the Nazi rally and to show acceptance if any Nazis showed.
Activities during the rally included face painting, performances by local bands, necklace making and speeches from local and national activists.
Eastern students were also among the peaceful protestors. Some came with YACHT, others came with friends.
YACHT co-leader and senior, Amy Gorman appreciated the laid back atmosphere.
“I thought it was a wonderful enviornment. I felt like I was back in the 60s, not that I’ve ever been in the 60s,” she said. “I’ve been to rallies before so I wasn’t surprised to find dancing.”
Sophomore Aliza Mandel said, “I wanted to come here because it’s my community. I grew up here and I wanted to say ‘no’ to these people.”
The rally was not just about protesting the Nazis, but about educating people on tolerance, respect and justice.
“It’s good to be doing something pro-peace instead of just being anti-Nazi,” said junior Emily Lucas.
Other audience members were refugees from the Nazi rally who were disgusted by the other protestors’ violence.
Dave Borsky, Liz Christy, Sam Greenfield and Greg Russo came over after witnessing the escalating violence by the Nazi protestors.
The group was made up of members from Skinheads Against Racial Predjucice and Anti-Racist Action.
“It was getting out of hand,” said Dave Borsky, a student at Ursinus College, about the protestors at the Nazi rally.
According to Borsky and others in SHARP and ARA a man who stopped to ask the protestors what was happening was punched in the face.
Many speakers emphasized the need for peace over violence.
Mike Berg, whose son, Nicolas Berg was recently beheaded in Iraq, was one of the speakers at the rally.
“I ask you all when you leave this place to start thinking about what you can do to make this a place of freedom, a place of peace, a place of tolerance and a place of diversity.”
“I was glad to be able to hear him talk and listen to him, that he didn’t hate the people who killed his son,” Gorman said.
“He is reaching out to the community in order to work against that kind of prejudice and to reach out in love,” she said.
Gorman noticed the contrast between Berg’s approach and the Nazis’ approach.
“It makes me think that our society will never change,” she said referring to Ecclesiates.
“My only hope is in the church.”