Political, Religious Protests Break Out At Harry Potter Festival
A small group of people protesting the morality of Harry Potter and other prominent social issues gathered on Friday night during the widely attended Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill.
Approximately 10 people gathered at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Highland and wielded various signs that read things like “Abortion Is Murder” while someone shouted into a megaphone to a growing crowd.
The protest group gathered to speak out against the promotion of witchcraft in the Harry Potter franchise, but were also criticizing the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and women’s rights.
According to Officer Mark Moore, the protests began at about 6 p.m. and continued until 8:30 p.m. The Philadelphia police force surrounded the protesters and separated them from onlookers and counter-protesters, a group that quickly grew much larger than the original protests.
“These people are exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, so thats why they’re here,” said Moore, who was accompanied by several other officers. “We’re here to ensure that everybody’s civil rights, constitutional rights, are upheld.”
“I kind of feel like its just an excuse to be homophobic and islamaphobic,” said Julia Spoor, who was attending the festival and decided to stay at the protest and hold up a sign that read “pro-choice, anti-hate, feminist, magical, lesbian witch” next to the original protesters. “They’ve seen my sign and they’ve seen that I’m a lesbian and they said that, because I am a lesbian, I am a rapist. So I’m kind of just hear to inform them that I’ve never raped anyone before.”
Spoor was not the only person who was individually accosted by the Harry Potter protesters, who threw out many derogatory remarks about women at the crowd.
Spoor said that when she saw the protests going on she drove to a convenience store to buy poster boards and markers to make her sign.
“Like, my cousin’s gay. I have mad respect for anyone gay in my lifetime. They deserve to have freedom and women deserve rights and no one deserves to be hated,” said Jonathan Boyer, a student at La Salle University.
Other onlookers were also holding up hastily created, homemade signs that read things as simple as “Love” or “Jesus had two dads” as well as “Hate has no home here” yard signs.
“I came here for the Harry Potter convention but when I saw people hating others for no reason other than how they are it kind of bothered me because I was raised to accept anyone,” said Michael MacMahon, who vocally engaged with the protesters. “They were saying ‘don’t judge us for judging you’ and I was calling them hypocrites for that, I was saying that if God loves all his children, why does he hate them.”