Homophobes chasing Black Lives Matters protesters with bats and clubs was a ‘non-lethal form of lynching’, sociologist says

A gang of bat-wielding men battled with Black Lives matter protesters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And the police, witnesses claim, did little to stop them. (Screen capture via Twitter)

A sociologist has said that thugs who were filmed shouting homophobic slurs at Black Lives Matter protesters while wielding baseball bats were demonstrating “a form of non-lethal lynching”.

Wielding axes, billy clubs, golf clubs and other jerry-rigged weapons, a gang of white men hurled homophobic and racist insults at Black Lives Matter protesters before tearing-up signs and spitting on them – with, onlookers said, “the blessing of police”.

As an open challenge against centuries of racist policing grips the US, lone hands have begun joining law enforcement’s increasingly violent efforts to squash protests.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Monday (June 1), picketers reported a “huge congregation of agitated white people” in the white-majority Fishtown neighbourhood.

The group of around 50 to 70 men threatened barbarity against Black Lives Matters protesters and, even as the violence escalated, the police did little to rein them in.

One witness described how the group operated “with the blessing” of the Philadelphia Police Department. Others reported the men hurling the “N-word” and telling Black Lives Matters to “take that f****t energy and go somewhere else”.

Noel Cazenave, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut and author of Killing African Americans: Police and Vigilante Violence as a Racial Control Mechanism, told The Guardian that the violent counterprotests were comparable to lynching.

“Chasing someone with golf clubs or what have you — I’d say that is a form of non-lethal lynching that maintains white racial control,” he said.

“It sends a message that states: You’re not supposed to be in this area. It’s justified by the notion that Black people, no matter what they’re doing, are criminals.”

Cazanave, a resident of Philadelphia for 13 years, said he wasn’t surprised by what he had seen

“We need to recognise that what’s happening with the police and vigilantes is closely related,” he said. “Slave patrols and vigilante committees made the earliest roots of the American policing system.”

Footage shows bands of bat-wielding men harassing bystanders and Black Lives Matter protesters. 

Footage taken by WHYY Radio Times reporter Jon Ehrens shows the men thundering down avenues, some wearing MAGA hats and cackling as other members tell officers they’re here to “protect” the police.

He alleged that one vigilante wielded a “hatchet” while he claimed he heard “n-words flying” from them.

One video shows the men yelling at Black Lives Matters members to “take that f****t energy and go somewhere else” while claiming they are “defending the cops”.

John Entwistle, 33, claimed an on-duty officer said he was pals with the armed locals.

“He said they knew each other through local athletic leagues or whatever,” Entwistle told The Guardian.

“And when you saw them, there were smiles. It was friendly.”

Protesters march through Center City on June 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Protesters march through Center City on June 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department told the newspaper that the incident is being investigated.

Moreover, in a news conference on Tuesday, police commissioner Danielle Outlaw said her department does not support the group.