Philadelphia's City Council was disrupted today by councilmen swinging fists, police officers flailing with blackjacks and the City Council president trying to restore order with a bullhorn.
A state representative, a councilmanic candidate and two sons of a councilman were among 13 arrested during the protest at the regular weekly session of council.
Two police officers were injured, one by a man swinging a walking cane while standing on chairs in council's visitor gallery. Police officers responded with the blackjacks and pushed and carried protesters from the room that had become littered with overturned desks and chairs.
The demonstrators were protesting city policy they say encourages the removal of poor people from near-downtown residential neighborhoods that are becoming attractive to middle class investors.
Council President George X. Schwartz's attempts to call for order through a bulhorn became only a mumble over the shouting of the demonstrators.
After police cleared most of the protesters from the room, Councilman Lucien E. Blackwell began complaining about the police action.
That led to a fight between him and Councilman Francis Rafferty. Rafferty struck Blackwell under the right eye.
"I have never seen blackjacks in this council," Blackwell screamed before the fight began.
Blackwell continually ignored Schwartz's ruling that the shouting councilman was out of order and should be quiet.
"I won't do anything until you apologize for using blackjacks," Blackwell yelled.
At that point Rafferty, who was seated next to Blackwell, stood and shouted, "You're an instigator. You're a troublemaker."
Blackwell to Rafferty: "You're a racist. You're nothing."
Rafferty to Blackwell: "You're a faggot."
Police officers tried to separate the two councilmen, both of whom were amateur fighters, but could not before Rafferty's punch was thrown.
That punch led to more fighting in the spectators section between the remaining demonstrators and police.
State Rep. T. Milton Street was carried from the chamber after he and his brother John, a councilmanic candidate, leaped over a railing onto the floor of the council chamber.
It was the third straight week Rep. Street has been ejected from the council chamber, but the first time this year the freshman legislator has been arrested.
Numerous times over the last several years he has been ejected because of his vigorous demonstrations against city policies.
The focal point of the current protest is the city's proposed application for $64 million in federal community development funds.
Street and his supporters say plans for that money will be used to drive low-income residents from their communities so more affluent persons can move in.