Demonstrators march in protest of predatory developments in Chinatown


By George Zhang, Co-Staff Development Coordinator

Shouts of “no arena in Chinatown” and “people over profit” coupled with the lively beats of Chinese drums rang in the air as an estimated 3,000 demonstrators marched toward Philadelphia City Hall, protesting the Philadelphia 76ers’ proposed construction of a new basketball stadium in Philadelphia’s Chinatown on Saturday, June 10. Originally announced by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2022, the plans include the construction of a $1.3 billion arena bordering Chinatown. However, residents around Chinatown have vehemently protested, citing that the stadium would destroy their neighborhood. 

The rally started at 10th Street Plaza, where activists handed out T-Shirts and created posters. They then marched down the streets of Chinatown toward City Hall, where a diverse group of community leaders around Philadelphia joined each other in solidarity, voicing their objections to the development.

“We are very clear that this arena will destroy Chinatown. Chinatown is essential to all 21,000 Chinese people in Philadelphia and many more outside of the city,” said Steven Zhu, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association. “We will not be silenced. We will not be ignored. We will not be bought, and we are not afraid.”

Community leader Melvin Hairston agrees, giving words of encouragement for Chinatown residents to fight.

“They can get their money up by building on the backs of the people,” Hairston said. “But they can’t build on the backs of the people if the people stand up.”

The protest was peaceful according to the police, and no conflicts arose. A lighthearted mood filled the air as the crowd laughed at Pennsylvania State Representative Tarik Khan’s jokes about the Philadelphia 76ers.

“This (the proposed arena) is just a litany of bad ideas from the 76ers,” Khan said, “like passing over Jayson Tatum, hiring Doc Rivers and drafting Ben Simmons.”

George Zhang can be reached at [email protected].