5 arrested in Philadelphia race protest

Five members of an antiracism group were arrested Saturday as they shouted over bullhorns near a neighborhood that has recently witnessed much racial tension. The mostly white neighborhood has been under a state of emergency since Nov. 22. It was the second time police had made arrests since Mayor W. Wilson Goode banned gatherings of more than four people in the area. Last month hundreds of whites staged noisy demonstrations against blacks moving into the neighborhood.

The state of emergency was scheduled to have ended Friday morning, but Mayor Goode extended it until Dec. 27 because of a fire at a rowhouse that until three weeks ago was the home of a black couple, Charles Williams and Marietta Bloxom. The mayor said the fire was caused by arson.

On Nov. 20, about 400 whites demonstrated outside the couple's home, demanding that they and their daughter leave the neighborhood.

Mr. Williams and Ms. Bloxom last month moved in with relatives in north Philadelphia, saying they feared for their daughter's safety.

Bobby Malone, executive director of a task force formed to head off racial violence in the community, said those arrested were members of the International Committee Against Racism.

While the protesters remained outside the restricted area, Mr. Malone said they were arrested because they appeared ready to incite violence and were charged with disturbing the peace.

Malone said he notified police after the five, standing about two blocks from the restricted area, began shouting over bullhorns about the fire Thursday night at the house recently vacated by Williams and Bloxom.

Mayor Goode said on Friday that an arsonist entered the rear of the house while a two-man police surveillance team sat in a car in front of the house.

Malone said Saturday's protesters claimed that police and firefighters were slow to respond to the fire, which Malone said ``was not the case.''

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