In Thursday’s press briefing, city officials and civic leaders all spoke about a common message of reconciliation.
Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city’s plans for reconciliation and healing, starting with the removal of the Frank Rizzo statue , which happpended early Wednesday. In what he hopes to be a more substantial step, Mayor Kenney says changes will be taking place within the administration, which he says needs to focus on listening and understanding.
“We, myself included, need to specifically hear the voices of those who have been silenced for far too long, men and women of color”, Mayor Kenney said.
Mayor Kenney announced the formation of a large and diverse Steering Committee, which will be comprised of civic and faith leaders, youth, and members of the LGBTQ community. Besides public safety and criminal justice reform, the group will be tackling structural violence that occurs on a neighborhood-based level. The team will be focused on listening, understanding, and reconciliation to strengthen and heal the city.
On behalf of the administration, community members who have pledged to serve on the Steering Committee also spoke about reconciliation. Representatives from Dare 2 Hope, a nonprofit organization combatting suicide, and the Laborers’ District Council of Philadelphia talked about being a beacon of hope that the city needs. Sarah-Ashley Andrews, founder of Dare 2 Hope, says in order to move forward, the administration must be held accountable.
After seeing peaceful protests take place across the city, the Mayor says the cries of the people are being heard. “We pledge to do better,” he said.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw joined Mayor Kenney to discuss the ongoing demonstrations that have been taking place. She commended peaceful protests that took place in Center City, North Broad Street, and Fishtown, saying that those protests “reflected the true spirit of the united call for change and reform that we all desire”. She added that acts of violence, such as the continued looting and vandalism, will not be tolerated.
Since the beginning of the demonstrations, there have been a total of 755 arrests. 492 of those being code violations for curfew and failure to disperse. Other arrests include assault on police, firearm violations, looting and burglary, and aggravated assault. A total of 27 police officers have been injured since Saturday.
Thursday, curfew hours will begin at 8 p.m. Only those with essential duties will be permitted outside.
As protests continue throughout the city and the rest of the nation, Mayor Kenney says the demonstrations have an impact. “Protests have changed the world. They’ve changed the entire country”, he said.