Calling themselves ElderWitness, the group says it's their responsibility to call out immorality and inhumane government policies toward immigrant children in U.S. custody.
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling was among the organizers of the Wednesday morning demonstration on Independence Mall. He says they’re not debating immigration policies; they’re saying the conditions at the southern border detention centers are cruel and immoral.
"We are demanding that the U.S. government treat people at the border in humane ways. Children cannot be treated as animals," he said. "Children need beds! Children need blankets! Children need toothbrushes!"
"There’s a difference of opinion about immigration policies, but the understanding is you don't put children in detention centers. You don’t separate children. It’s just harmful," said protest co-organizer Lynne Iser.
"In this demonstration, folks are reading out from the authoritative dispatches of people who have been allowed into the centers, and it has to shock the conscience of everyone."
Reading from one such report, Liebling said, "Three girls were trying to take care of a 2-year-old who had wet his pants and had no diaper."
To drive home their point, Liebling says they created a visual representation of what has been described as inhumane conditions.
"We have erected a cage on Independence Mall, and people are standing in the very hot sun."
One protester, Ellie Fursenberg of Mt. Airy, was in the cage.
"A pretend cage," she said. "I can come and go — unlike the children who are being held at the border."
Protested Janet Stotland of West Philadelphia said she wants to see decent conditions for migrants who are detained.
"I'd like to see far more released through other procedures," she said. "They don’t need to be detained for these lengths of time."