Philly’s top cop refuses to back down after report accuses police of ‘mishandling’ riots by using tear gas

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – A recent report coming from Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart alleges that there was some failed leadership of Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, among others, during the onset of the riots/protests that transpired in late-May and early-June within the city.

One of the biggest faults cited on this report is the deployment of teargas by police that transpired during some of the protest and riot responses in the wake of George Floyd’s death – which occurred roughly 1,100 miles away from Philadelphia.

The resounding theme present within the report keeps assigning blame for the fallout of the riots and protests to “leadership”, namely there being a lack thereof:

“The investigation shows that the root cause of the lack of planning was a lack of leadership at the highest levels. While demonstrations deteriorated across the nation in the days leading up to Philadelphia’s unrest, City leadership did not believe similar events would take place here and therefore, failed to plan accordingly.”

One of the more interesting aspects brought up by the report was the claiming that there were disparate responses by police when they were faced with aggressive demonstrators and rioters from BLM versus other groups of demonstrators that were in “Fishtown and Marconi Plaza”:

“Why was the response to events on 52nd Street and I-676 so [heavy handed], while vigilantes in Fishtown and Marconi Plaza were unbothered by law enforcement even past curfew?”

Of course, within the same report furnished by Rhynhart, there seems to be an obvious answer as to why police may not have been as “heavy handed” with demonstrators at “Fishtown and Marconi Plaza” back in 2020.

That’s because the same report shows that those demonstrators had amassed in support of police:

“The investigation also found that the Police Department showed disparate approaches to protesters gathered in opposition to police brutality versus groups claiming to gather in support of the police in Fishtown or a statue at Marconi Plaza.”

To be specific regarding the cited “disparate approaches”, the Fishtown response pertained to a group of roughly 70 people – some carrying baseball bats and out past curfew – that had staged themselves outside of a police precinct on June 2nd, 2020 to protect the police precinct from malefactors.

And while there was at least two alleged assaults, video from June 2nd showcases police responding to the area and these folks that had baseball bats not really causing a ruckus. 

As for the June 13th, 2020 demonstration in Marconi Plaza that saw another one of these “disparate approaches” from police involved locals being gathered, some with bats and at least one armed with a rifle, that were there to protect a statue of Christopher Columbus.

This was of course after numerous statues and effigies across the country had been targeted by rioters.

And during these two aforementioned scenarios, there were no signs of looting or rioting.

As for the May 31st, 2020 within the 52nd Street area in Philadelphia – there was looting, rioting, vandalism, and acts of violence on display. Hence, teargas was deployed during that riot.

And the June 1st, 2020 use of teargas happened when literally thousands of people shut down the I-676.

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Outside of citing disparities in treatments of certain demonstrations during the summer of 2020, the report attributes there being a general “lack of planning” – then citing that alleged lack of planning as being a segue to “increased and inappropriate force,” being utilized by police during the protests/riots:

“This lack of planning had cascading negative consequences. Because the City failed to plan for the unrest, it did not anticipate the level of officer staffing needed, so they did not take necessary actions to increase officers on duty, such as cancelling scheduled days off.”

“The investigation found that the failure to staff appropriately likely compelled the City to compensate with increased and inappropriate force, including deploying teargas and other excessively violent reactions to protesters and bystanders.”

Considering the overall theme of the report is to attribute blame regarding the riots and how they were responded to, Mayor Kenney’s spokesperson Mike Dunn responded to the criticism found within the report, citing that the mayor’s administration has already conducted a similar report that sought solutions instead of assigning blame:

“The key difference between the two [reports] is that while our consultants focused on solutions, the Controller, in her duplicative effort, appears fixated on platitudes and attempts to cast blame for mistakes that have been acknowledged on multiple occasions.”

“We reject her unsubstantiated claims that the Mayor and members of his Administration did not exercise ‘leadership.”

Dunn continued from there, pointing out that Controller Rhynhart’s report seems to be more self-aggrandizing of the Controller’s virtue rather than anything that can be taken credibly to assign blame to either the mayor or Commissioner Outlaw:

“The Mayor and Police Commissioner have previously owned up to mistakes made and committed to reforms that are ongoing.”

“Admitting mistakes, committing to fixes, following through; that is far greater leadership than Monday morning quarterbacking by an official more focused on her own resume than in actually making Philadelphia a better place.”

It seems as though the mayor’s office is sticking up for not only themselves, but also Commissioner Outlaw in said response to the latest released report. 

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