Organized labor denounces "Proud Boys" rally in Philadelphia

In late October, reports began to emerge that the far-right, racist and antisemitic organization calling itself “The Proud Boys” were planning to hold some kind of public demonstration here in Philadelphia soon after the November 6th elections.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Proud Boys as a hate group. Members of the organization (including one man from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) have been charged with crimes including riot and assault, gang assault, and criminal possession of a weapon for a series of attacks on people on the streets of New York City a few weeks ago, following a speech by the head of the Proud Boys at a New York City Republican Party event in Manhattan.

A rally calling itself “We The People” is scheduled for this Saturday, November 17th. And while the organizers of this rally have stated publicly that they oppose violence at this event, they have not denounced the politics that the Proud Boys represent – racism, hatred, and antisemitism.

The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO believes firmly in free speech and in the guarantee to freedom of speech in the First Amendment. Members of our unions come from every background and support a very wide variety of political views. Our Council has endorsed politicians from both major parties, and we expect to do so in the future.

But the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO stands absolutely opposed to the kind of racist and antisemitic hatred represented by the Proud Boys. As we declared in December of 2017 in a resolution that was passed unanimously by our Executive Board and our Delegates – representing over 100 unions in our region – in the wake of the antisemitic vandalism in South Philly and in Jewish cemeteries in our area: “The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO stands ready today to join with like-minded people from all backgrounds who are disgusted by rising bigotry and intolerance, standing together in solidarity at this critical moment, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnic background.”

Accordingly, we wish to express organized labor’s absolute opposition to any rally expressing racism, antisemitism, or any other hateful prejudice in our city. We further call on the organizers of the “We The People” rally to denounce any presence at their event of the Proud Boys or any other hate groups, whether or not they intend to carry out violence or to use anti-semitic or racist chants and signs on Saturday. The Proud Boys have no place in our city. We note our particular disgust that this kind of hate organization could participate in a rally on Independence Mall – within sight of the very building in which the Declaration of Independence was drafted and approved – and across the street from the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Patrick J Eiding, President
Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO