This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I love my city.  

When I moved here 10 years ago, the only thing I knew about Philly was that it had been the murder capital of the US for a while. Little did I know what a decade could do to the city I now call home.  Thanks to a diverse community committed to change, this city is now home to amazing art, fantastic food, moving music, and very little crime.  And best of all? The people.  

Even our mayor, Jim Kenney, knows that the strength of this city lies in her people.  We flourish because of our diversity, and it is clear that we, as a city, are more than willing to stand up and protect those people who call Philadelphia home.  We are proud to be a #sanctuarycity, and we aren't afraid to show it. On Saturday, February 5, thousands of people filled the streets around city hall for the #SanctuaryEverywhere March, a protest against the policies of the Trump Administration.  

There was no violence, there were no arrests, there were no blockades.  The police were friendly and helpful, riding their bikes alongside the protest for protection and perhaps in solidarity, smiling and chatting with people.  There were children, pets, elderly, disabled, churches, brass bands.  People watched from their windows, others joined in as we passed. A man sold pretzels and water in the middle of the street as the protest passed.  This is the city I love.  This is the America my grandmother immigrated to in 1924.

I went because I wanted to stand up for what I believed in, but I also went because I wanted others around the world to see what I see: we are all human, and we will not go gently into that good night.  We will rise up, we will lift up our voices, we will hold each other close, we will make beauty and joy out of pain and struggle.  No matter how dark things may seem, I am comforted by how many people are making themselves a light.  This city--these people--are still revolutionary! We still believe in these words:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

And we will fill the streets to defend THAT America.  Keep the flame burning: "Rage, rage, against the dying of the light." 

Want to see more of my images from the protest? Click here.

Ashley SmithComment