I returned to Philadelphia for my 2nd Die-In on Sunday, December 7, outside the Eagles-Seahawks game at the Lincoln Financial Field. This occurred one week after several black St. Louis Rams players put up their hands on television in the iconic image of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” Over 300 persons gathered in the freezing-cold night toward the end of the game at Broad and Pattison. Sponsored by a group of clergy and lay people called POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild), most of the speakers that night were religious clergy leaders. Jewish and Catholic leaders led several prayers and denounced the fact that millions of dollars can be spent at every football game, while schools and communities are destroyed from lack of funds.
Overall I’ve performed five die-ins, but this one was by far the scariest. Around 7:45 P.M. we marched into the intersection of Broad and Pattison, while the first of the fans exited the stadium. Blacks and Whites performed die-ins together. Although we were surrounded by police officers, it was horrifying lying on the ground near the outer-circle of the group for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, as white Eagles fans from the game booed and cursed at us in shouts of rage. Perhaps they were upset by the Eagles loss of 24-14, but more likely their anger stemmed from years of racial hatred. Racial hatred could be expected from The Declaration’s article prior to rally that quoted Twitter messages in the title: “‘We Will Fucking Kill You'”: Online Ire from Some Eagles Fans Over Tonight’s Planned ‘Die-In.'” Bystanders angrily yelled: “Get a job, do something useful,” “support the police,” “we hate criminals,” “Shoot them all” and “stop wasting my tax money”. For a full 30 seconds, one intoxicated man led a repeated chant: “assholes, assholes, assholes.” Ironically he yelled this at a crowd of mostly religious persons and young students.
I received courage from the fact that black students during the 1960 sit-ins faced much more dangerous threats than I did. Still, the vicious reactionary slurs made by white bystanders was not a pretty sight, and in fact revealed how difficult this fight will really be. If white society continues to advocate violence against those deemed as secondary-citizens, then it is that much more important for activists to strictly follow nonviolence.
The die-in was widely reported on. Most newspapers admitted that violent chants were yelled at the demonstrators, but many also downplayed this fact, which certainly wouldn’t have happened if the roles were reversed. The event was widely publicized by CBS, NBC, ABC News, KYW Newsradio, ESPN.go.com, Raging Chicken Press, Dunk360.com, WDEL 101.7 fm, BillyPenn.com, Philly Declaration (Declaration December 8), NJ.com and Philly.com.